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Management of traumatic brain injury 

Management of traumatic brain injury
Chapter:
Management of traumatic brain injury
Author(s):

Alistair A. Gibson

and Peter J. D. Andrews

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199600830.003.0343
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date: 01 August 2021

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide and although young male adults are at particular risk, it affects all ages. TBI often occurs in the presence of significant extracranial injuries and immediate management focuses on the ABCs—airway with cervical spine control, breathing, and circulation. Best outcomes are achieved by management in centres that can offer comprehensive neurological critical care and appropriate management for extracranial injuries. If patients require transfer from an admitting hospital to a specialist centre, the transfer must be carried out by an appropriately skilled and equipped transport team. The focus of specific TBI management is on the avoidance of secondary injury to the brain. The principles of management are to avoid hypotension and hypoxia, control intracranial pressure and maintain cerebral perfusion pressure above 60 mmHg. Management of increased intracranial pressure is generally by a stepwise approach starting with sedation and analgesia, lung protective mechanical ventilation to normocarbia in a 30° head-up position, maintenance of oxygenation, and blood pressure. Additional measures include paralysis with a neuromuscular blocking agent, CSF drainage via an external ventricular drain, osmolar therapy with mannitol or hypertonic saline, and moderate hypothermia. Refractory intracranial hypertension may be treated surgically with decompressive craniectomy or medically with high dose barbiturate sedation. General supportive measures include provision of adequate nutrition preferably by the enteral route, thromboembolism prophylaxis, skin and bowel care, and management of all extracranial injuries.

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