Objective: The aim of this study is to map and evaluate the available resources and the premises of traumatic head injury management in the Nordic countries, before the implementation of a Nordic adaption of the Brain Trauma Foundation guidelines for prehospital management.
Methods: The study is a synthesis of two cross-sectional surveys. Questionnaires were used to collect data on the annual number of acute head injury operations, the infrastructure, the level of education, the use of trauma protocols and the management of traumatic head injury at Nordic hospitals.
Results: The proportion of acute head injury operations performed outside a neurosurgical department was 0% in Denmark, 16% in Finland, 19% in Norway and 33% in Sweden. Eighty-four per cent of Nordic hospitals had written protocols for the assessment and treatment of trauma patients and 78% had regular training in trauma management; 67% had specific protocols for the treatment of traumatic head injury. Computed tomography (CT) was available in 93% of the hospitals, and 59% of the hospitals could link CT scans to the regional neurosurgical department.
Conclusions: Most Nordic hospitals are well prepared to manage patients with acute traumatic head injury. A substantial proportion of the operations are performed at local and central hospitals without neurosurgical expertise, despite an efficient pre and interhospital transport system. The Nordic adaption of the Brain Trauma Foundation guidelines recommends that this practice is terminated.