Reduced brain tissue oxygen in traumatic brain injury: are most commonly used interventions successful?

J Trauma. 2011 Mar;70(3):535-46. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31820b59de.


Background: Brain tissue oxygenation (PbtO2)-guided management facilitates treatment of reduced PbtO2 episodes potentially conferring survival and outcome advantages in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). To date, the nature and effectiveness of commonly used interventions in correcting compromised PbtO2 in TBI remains unclear. We sought to identify the most common interventions used in episodes of compromised PbtO2 and to analyze which were effective.

Methods: A retrospective 7-year review of consecutive severe TBI patients with a PbtO2 monitor was conducted in a Level I trauma center's intensive care unit or neurosurgical registry. Episodes of compromised PbtO2 (defined as <20 mm Hg for 0.25-4 hours) were identified, and clinical interventions conducted during these episodes were analyzed. Response to treatment was gauged on how rapidly (ΔT) PbtO2 normalized (>20 mm Hg) and how great the PbtO2 increase was (ΔPbtO2). Intracranial pressure (ΔICP) and cerebral perfusion pressure (ΔCPP) also were examined for these episodes.

Results: Six hundred twenty-five episodes of reduced PbtO2 were identified in 92 patients. Patient characteristics were: age 41.2 years, 77.2% men, and Injury Severity Score and head or neck Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 34.0 ± 9.2 and 4.9 ± 0.4, respectively. Five interventions: narcotics or sedation, pressors, repositioning, FIO2/PEEP increases, and combined sedation or narcotics + pressors were the most commonly used strategies. Increasing the number of interventions resulted in worsening the time to PbtO2 correction. Triple combinations resulted in the lowest ΔICP and dual combinations in the highest ΔCPP (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Clinicians use a limited number of interventions when correcting compromised PbtO2. Using strategies employing many interventions administered closely together may be less effective in correcting PbO2, ICP, and CPP deficits. Some PbtO2 deficits may be self-limited.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries / mortality
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intracranial Hypertension / metabolism
  • Intracranial Hypertension / mortality
  • Intracranial Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Hypertension / therapy
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Oxygen