Decompressive craniectomy in patients with uncontrollable intracranial hypertension

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 1998;71:16-8. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7091-6475-4_5.


There has been controversial discussion about the benefits of decompressive craniectomy in patients with critically raised intracranial pressure (ICP) after severe head injury. The aim of this retrospective study was to analyze the results of secondary decompressive craniectomy in patients with uncontrollable raised ICP after maximum aggressive medical treatment. The data of 28 patients (mean age 22 years, range 8-44 years) with severe head injury and posttraumatic cerebral edema were analyzed retrospectively. Surgery was not indicated in patients with vast primary lesions, hypoxia, ischemic infarction, brainstem injuries and central herniation. The outcome was classified according to the Glascow Outcome Scale (GOS) after one year. The decompressive crainectomy was performed an average of 68 hours after trauma, and ICP (< 25 mm Hg) decreased always while cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP > 75 mm Hg) improved as well as cerebral blood flow and microcirculation to normal values. 15 patients (56%) had a good outcome after one year (GOS 4 + 5). 5 patients (18%) were severely disabled, 4 patients (14%) remained in vegetative state and 3 patients (11%) died. Decompressive craniectomy should be kept in mind as the last therapeutic step, especially in young patients with head injury and raised ICP, which is not controllable with conservative methods.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Edema / diagnosis
  • Brain Edema / physiopathology
  • Brain Edema / surgery
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / surgery*
  • Child
  • Craniotomy*
  • Decompression, Surgical*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Hypertension / surgery*
  • Intracranial Pressure / physiology
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome