The standard treatment for traumatic brain injury has just been drastically devalued by a group of researchers at the University of Washington and their collegues at six hospitals in Bolivia and Ecuador.
According to Medical Xpress, the researchers discovered that intracranial pressure monitoring, the standard method used to treat severe TBI, was no more effective than a non-invasive treatment of imaging and clinical examination.
The findings have been published in the December 12 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, and they have completely shaken the field, according to Randall Chesnut, a UW Medicine neurosurgeon. “Within this field, this is a game changer.”
Intracranial pressure monitoring focused on keeping a patient’s intracranial pressure less than 20 mm (millimeters of mercury), and it often required removing part of the skull. Hightened pressure causes both nervous system and blood vessel tissues to be compressed and could cause permanent neurologic damage or death.
Chestnut believes putting so much focus on keeping pressure below 20 mm is partially the reason the standard method is not more effective. “We suspect that one major issue is that 20 is not a magic number and that patients require a more complicated method of treatment.”