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Concept: Intracranial pressure


Background Intracranial-pressure monitoring is considered the standard of care for severe traumatic brain injury and is used frequently, but the efficacy of treatment based on monitoring in improving the outcome has not been rigorously assessed. Methods We conducted a multicenter, controlled trial in which 324 patients 13 years of age or older who had severe traumatic brain injury and were being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) in Bolivia or Ecuador were randomly assigned to one of two specific protocols: guidelines-based management in which a protocol for monitoring intraparenchymal intracranial pressure was used (pressure-monitoring group) or a protocol in which treatment was based on imaging and clinical examination (imaging-clinical examination group). The primary outcome was a composite of survival time, impaired consciousness, and functional status at 3 months and 6 months and neuropsychological status at 6 months; neuropsychological status was assessed by an examiner who was unaware of protocol assignment. This composite measure was based on performance across 21 measures of functional and cognitive status and calculated as a percentile (with 0 indicating the worst performance, and 100 the best performance). Results There was no significant between-group difference in the primary outcome, a composite measure based on percentile performance across 21 measures of functional and cognitive status (score, 56 in the pressure-monitoring group vs. 53 in the imaging-clinical examination group; P=0.49). Six-month mortality was 39% in the pressure-monitoring group and 41% in the imaging-clinical examination group (P=0.60). The median length of stay in the ICU was similar in the two groups (12 days in the pressure-monitoring group and 9 days in the imaging-clinical examination group; P=0.25), although the number of days of brain-specific treatments (e.g., administration of hyperosmolar fluids and the use of hyperventilation) in the ICU was higher in the imaging-clinical examination group than in the pressure-monitoring group (4.8 vs. 3.4, P=0.002). The distribution of serious adverse events was similar in the two groups. Conclusions For patients with severe traumatic brain injury, care focused on maintaining monitored intracranial pressure at 20 mm Hg or less was not shown to be superior to care based on imaging and clinical examination. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; number, NCT01068522 .).

Concepts: Psychology, Clinical trial, Brain, Traumatic brain injury, Intensive care medicine, Intracranial pressure, Adverse event, Intracranial hemorrhage


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has long been recognized as the leading cause of traumatic death and disability. Tremendous advances in surgical and intensive care unit management of the primary injury, including maintaining adequate oxygenation, controlling intracranial pressure, and ensuring proper cerebral perfusion pressure, have resulted in reduced mortality. However, the secondary injury phase of TBI is a prolonged pathogenic process characterized by neuroinflammation, excitatory amino acids, free radicals, and ion imbalance. There are no approved therapies to directly address these underlying processes. Here, we present a case that was intentionally treated with substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (n-3FA) to provide the nutritional foundation for the brain to begin the healing process following severe TBI. Recent animal research supports the use of n-3FA, and clinical experience suggests that benefits may be possible from substantially and aggressively adding n-3FA to optimize the nutritional foundation of severe TBI patients and must be in place if the brain is to be given the opportunity to repair itself to the best possible extent. Administration early in the course of treatment, in the emergency department or sooner, has the potential to improve outcomes from this potentially devastating public health problem.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Traumatic brain injury, Intracranial pressure, Omega-3 fatty acid, Neurology, Cerebral perfusion pressure, Neurotrauma


Colloid cysts are rare congenital, intracranial neoplasms, commonly located in the third ventricle. Colloid cysts are endodermal congenital malformations. The cysts commonly range in size from 1–2 cm in diameter, although large cysts >3 cm in size have been reported. The components of the cyst include an outer fibrous capsule over an inner epithelium. The epithelium is usually a single layer of mucin-producing or ciliated cells. Such cysts contain mucoid and gelatinous material, which is positive for both Periodic acid Schiff (PAS) and mucicarmen staining. Although colloid cysts usually represent histopathologically benign neoplasms, they can result in sudden, unexpected and potentially lethal complications. The mechanism(s) of death is still a controversial subject and several mechanisms have been postulated to explain the sudden onset of severe symptoms and of fatal rapid deterioration in patients with colloid cysts. In this case, macroscopic and histological findings addressed the diagnosis of colloid cyst of the third ventricle with diffuse myocardial injury (coagulative myocytolysys or contraction band necrosis, CBN) and led us to conclude that acute cardiac arrest due to hypothalamus stimulation in the context of colloid cyst of the third ventricle was the cause of death. As the hypothalamic structures which are involved in neuroendocrine and autonomic regulation playing a key role in cardiovascular control are located close to the walls of the third ventricle which is the most frequent anatomical site of colloid cyst, this may suggest that reflex cardiac effects due to the compression of the hypothalamic cardiovascular regulatory centers by the cyst explain the sudden death in patients harboring a colloid cyst when signs of hydrocephalus or brain herniation are lacking.Virtual slidesThe virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Blood, Myocardial infarction, Heart, Intracranial pressure, Benign tumor, Congenital disorder, Colloid cyst


INTRODUCTION: Symptomatic subdural hematoma development is a constant concern for patients who have undergone cerebrospinal fluid shunting procedures to relieve symptoms related to normal-pressure hydrocephalus. Acute subdural hematomas are of particular concern in these patients as even minor head trauma may result in subdural hematoma formation. The presence of a ventricular shunt facilitates further expansion of the subdural hematoma and often necessitates surgical treatment, including subdural hematoma evacuation and shunt ligation. CASE PRESENTATION: We present the case of a 63-year-old North American Caucasian man with normal-pressure hydrocephalus with an adjustable valve ventriculoperitoneal shunt who developed an acute subdural hematoma after sustaining head trauma. Conservative treatment was favored over operative evacuation because our patient was neurologically intact, but simple observation was considered to be too high risk in the setting of a low-pressure ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Thus, the valve setting on the ventriculoperitoneal shunt was increased to its maximum pressure setting in order to reduce flow through the shunt and to mildly increase intracranial pressure in an attempt to tamponade any active bleeding and limit hematoma expansion. A repeat computed tomography scan of the head six days after the valve adjustment revealed complete resolution of the acute subdural hematoma. At this time, the valve pressure was reduced to its original setting to treat symptoms of normal-pressure hydrocephalus. CONCLUSIONS: Programmable shunt valves afford the option for non-operative management of acute subdural hematoma in patients with ventricular shunts for normal-pressure hydrocephalus. As illustrated in this case report, increasing the shunt valve pressure may result in rapid resolution of the acute subdural hematoma in some patients.

Concepts: Traumatic brain injury, Intracranial pressure, Cerebrospinal fluid, Hydrocephalus, Subdural hematoma, Hematoma, Subdural space


Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) carries high early patient mortality. More women than men suffer from SAH and the average age of female SAH survivors is greater than that of male survivors; however, the overall mortality and neurological outcomes are not better in males despite their younger age. This pattern suggests the possibility of gender differences in the severity of initial impact and/or in subsequent pathophysiology. We explored gender differences in survival and pathophysiology following subarachnoid hemorrhage induced in age-matched male and female rats by endovascular puncture. Intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral blood flow (CBF), blood pressure (BP) and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) were recorded at and after induction of SAH. Animals were sacrificed 3 hours after lesion and studied for subarachnoid hematoma size, vascular pathology (collagen and endothelium immunostaining), inflammation (platelet and neutrophil immunostaining), and cell death (TUNEL assay). In a second cohort, 24-hour survival was determined. Subarachnoid hematoma, post-hemorrhage ICP peak, BP elevation, reduction in CPP, intraluminal platelet aggregation and neutrophil accumulation, loss of vascular collagen, and neuronal and non-neuronal cell death were greater in male than in female rats. Hematoma size did not correlate with the number of apoptotic cells, platelet aggregates or neutrophil. The ICP peak correlated with hematoma size and with number of apoptotic cells but not with platelet aggregates and neutrophil number. This suggests that the intensity of ICP rise at SAH influences the severity of apoptosis but not of inflammation. Mortality was markedly greater in males than females. Our data demonstrate that in rats gender influences the initial impact of SAH causing greater bleed and early injury in males as compared to females.

Concepts: Male, Blood, Female, Traumatic brain injury, Intracranial pressure, Gender, Sex, Subarachnoid hemorrhage


Background The effect of decompressive craniectomy on clinical outcomes in patients with refractory traumatic intracranial hypertension remains unclear. Methods From 2004 through 2014, we randomly assigned 408 patients, 10 to 65 years of age, with traumatic brain injury and refractory elevated intracranial pressure (>25 mm Hg) to undergo decompressive craniectomy or receive ongoing medical care. The primary outcome was the rating on the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS-E) (an 8-point scale, ranging from death to “upper good recovery” [no injury-related problems]) at 6 months. The primary-outcome measure was analyzed with an ordinal method based on the proportional-odds model. If the model was rejected, that would indicate a significant difference in the GOS-E distribution, and results would be reported descriptively. Results The GOS-E distribution differed between the two groups (P<0.001). The proportional-odds assumption was rejected, and therefore results are reported descriptively. At 6 months, the GOS-E distributions were as follows: death, 26.9% among 201 patients in the surgical group versus 48.9% among 188 patients in the medical group; vegetative state, 8.5% versus 2.1%; lower severe disability (dependent on others for care), 21.9% versus 14.4%; upper severe disability (independent at home), 15.4% versus 8.0%; moderate disability, 23.4% versus 19.7%; and good recovery, 4.0% versus 6.9%. At 12 months, the GOS-E distributions were as follows: death, 30.4% among 194 surgical patients versus 52.0% among 179 medical patients; vegetative state, 6.2% versus 1.7%; lower severe disability, 18.0% versus 14.0%; upper severe disability, 13.4% versus 3.9%; moderate disability, 22.2% versus 20.1%; and good recovery, 9.8% versus 8.4%. Surgical patients had fewer hours than medical patients with intracranial pressure above 25 mm Hg after randomization (median, 5.0 vs. 17.0 hours; P<0.001) but had a higher rate of adverse events (16.3% vs. 9.2%, P=0.03). Conclusions At 6 months, decompressive craniectomy in patients with traumatic brain injury and refractory intracranial hypertension resulted in lower mortality and higher rates of vegetative state, lower severe disability, and upper severe disability than medical care. The rates of moderate disability and good recovery were similar in the two groups. (Funded by the Medical Research Council and others; RESCUEicp Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN66202560 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Traumatic brain injury, Intracranial pressure, Intracranial hemorrhage, Neurotrauma, Brain herniation, Persistent vegetative state, Decompressive craniectomy


Background In patients with traumatic brain injury, hypothermia can reduce intracranial hypertension. The benefit of hypothermia on functional outcome is unclear. Methods We randomly assigned adults with an intracranial pressure of more than 20 mm Hg despite stage 1 treatments (including mechanical ventilation and sedation management) to standard care (control group) or hypothermia (32 to 35°C) plus standard care. In the control group, stage 2 treatments (e.g., osmotherapy) were added as needed to control intracranial pressure. In the hypothermia group, stage 2 treatments were added only if hypothermia failed to control intracranial pressure. In both groups, stage 3 treatments (barbiturates and decompressive craniectomy) were used if all stage 2 treatments failed to control intracranial pressure. The primary outcome was the score on the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS-E; range, 1 to 8, with lower scores indicating a worse functional outcome) at 6 months. The treatment effect was estimated with ordinal logistic regression adjusted for prespecified prognostic factors and expressed as a common odds ratio (with an odds ratio <1.0 favoring hypothermia). Results We enrolled 387 patients at 47 centers in 18 countries from November 2009 through October 2014, at which time recruitment was suspended owing to safety concerns. Stage 3 treatments were required to control intracranial pressure in 54% of the patients in the control group and in 44% of the patients in the hypothermia group. The adjusted common odds ratio for the GOS-E score was 1.53 (95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 2.30; P=0.04), indicating a worse outcome in the hypothermia group than in the control group. A favorable outcome (GOS-E score of 5 to 8, indicating moderate disability or good recovery) occurred in 26% of the patients in the hypothermia group and in 37% of the patients in the control group (P=0.03). Conclusions In patients with an intracranial pressure of more than 20 mm Hg after traumatic brain injury, therapeutic hypothermia plus standard care to reduce intracranial pressure did not result in outcomes better than those with standard care alone. (Funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment program; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN34555414 .).

Concepts: Logit, Traumatic brain injury, Intracranial pressure, Brain tumor, Intracranial hemorrhage, Neurotrauma, Brain herniation, Decompressive craniectomy


Background We aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of thrombectomy for the treatment of stroke in a trial embedded within a population-based stroke reperfusion registry. Methods During a 2-year period at four centers in Catalonia, Spain, we randomly assigned 206 patients who could be treated within 8 hours after the onset of symptoms of acute ischemic stroke to receive either medical therapy (including intravenous alteplase when eligible) and endovascular therapy with the Solitaire stent retriever (thrombectomy group) or medical therapy alone (control group). All patients had confirmed proximal anterior circulation occlusion and the absence of a large infarct on neuroimaging. In all study patients, the use of alteplase either did not achieve revascularization or was contraindicated. The primary outcome was the severity of global disability at 90 days, as measured on the modified Rankin scale (ranging from 0 [no symptoms] to 6 [death]). Although the maximum planned sample size was 690, enrollment was halted early because of loss of equipoise after positive results for thrombectomy were reported from other similar trials. Results Thrombectomy reduced the severity of disability over the range of the modified Rankin scale (adjusted odds ratio for improvement of 1 point, 1.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05 to 2.8) and led to higher rates of functional independence (a score of 0 to 2) at 90 days (43.7% vs. 28.2%; adjusted odds ratio, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1 to 4.0). At 90 days, the rates of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage were 1.9% in both the thrombectomy group and the control group (P=1.00), and rates of death were 18.4% and 15.5%, respectively (P=0.60). Registry data indicated that only eight patients who met the eligibility criteria were treated outside the trial at participating hospitals. Conclusions Among patients with anterior circulation stroke who could be treated within 8 hours after symptom onset, stent retriever thrombectomy reduced the severity of post-stroke disability and increased the rate of functional independence. (Funded by Fundació Ictus Malaltia Vascular through an unrestricted grant from Covidien and others; REVASCAT number, NCT01692379 .).

Concepts: Stroke, Intracranial pressure, Modified Rankin Scale, Odds ratio, Ischemia, The Trial, Disability, Barthel scale


Background It is not known whether prehospital fibrinolysis, coupled with timely coronary angiography, provides a clinical outcome similar to that with primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) early after acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Methods Among 1892 patients with STEMI who presented within 3 hours after symptom onset and who were unable to undergo primary PCI within 1 hour, patients were randomly assigned to undergo either primary PCI or fibrinolytic therapy with bolus tenecteplase (amended to half dose in patients ≥75 years of age), clopidogrel, and enoxaparin before transport to a PCI-capable hospital. Emergency coronary angiography was performed if fibrinolysis failed; otherwise, angiography was performed 6 to 24 hours after randomization. The primary end point was a composite of death, shock, congestive heart failure, or reinfarction up to 30 days. Results The primary end point occurred in 116 of 939 patients (12.4%) in the fibrinolysis group and in 135 of 943 patients (14.3%) in the primary PCI group (relative risk in the fibrinolysis group, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.09; P=0.21). Emergency angiography was required in 36.3% of patients in the fibrinolysis group, whereas the remainder of patients underwent angiography at a median of 17 hours after randomization. More intracranial hemorrhages occurred in the fibrinolysis group than in the primary PCI group (1.0% vs. 0.2%, P=0.04; after protocol amendment, 0.5% vs. 0.3%, P=0.45). The rates of nonintracranial bleeding were similar in the two groups. Conclusion Prehospital fibrinolysis with timely coronary angiography resulted in effective reperfusion in patients with early STEMI who could not undergo primary PCI within 1 hour after the first medical contact. However, fibrinolysis was associated with a slightly increased risk of intracranial bleeding. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; number, NCT00623623 .).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Cardiology, Heart failure, Percutaneous coronary intervention, Stroke, Atheroma, Intracranial pressure


Many procedures in modern clinical medicine rely on the use of electronic implants in treating conditions that range from acute coronary events to traumatic injury. However, standard permanent electronic hardware acts as a nidus for infection: bacteria form biofilms along percutaneous wires, or seed haematogenously, with the potential to migrate within the body and to provoke immune-mediated pathological tissue reactions. The associated surgical retrieval procedures, meanwhile, subject patients to the distress associated with re-operation and expose them to additional complications. Here, we report materials, device architectures, integration strategies, and in vivo demonstrations in rats of implantable, multifunctional silicon sensors for the brain, for which all of the constituent materials naturally resorb via hydrolysis and/or metabolic action, eliminating the need for extraction. Continuous monitoring of intracranial pressure and temperature illustrates functionality essential to the treatment of traumatic brain injury; the measurement performance of our resorbable devices compares favourably with that of non-resorbable clinical standards. In our experiments, insulated percutaneous wires connect to an externally mounted, miniaturized wireless potentiostat for data transmission. In a separate set-up, we connect a sensor to an implanted (but only partially resorbable) data-communication system, proving the principle that there is no need for any percutaneous wiring. The devices can be adapted to sense fluid flow, motion, pH or thermal characteristics, in formats that are compatible with the body’s abdomen and extremities, as well as the deep brain, suggesting that the sensors might meet many needs in clinical medicine.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Brain, Bacteria, Traumatic brain injury, Surgery, Intracranial pressure, Cerebrospinal fluid