Traumatic Brain Injury Deaths Lowered by Decompressive Surgery

A great deal of attention has recently been given to the importance of proper treatment of traumatic brain injury to help prevent further complications after the injury has occurred. Many times, traumatic brain injuries have lasting effects that cannot be predicted immediately after the injury, and some of the repercussions of these injuries are not seen for months or years after the injury has occurred. However, another concern related to traumatic brain injuries is the chance of death associated with them. According to Medscape, recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that decompressive surgery may decrease the risk of death caused by traumatic brain injury. The average age of participants in the study was 33, and most had sustained their injuries through severe falls, assaults, or vehicle accidents.

What does the research suggest?

Decompressive surgery, the medical term for which is decompressive craniectomy, is the removal of a large section of the skull after a traumatic brain injury has occurred to allow the brain to expand from swelling after an injury. In a study that randomly selected hundreds of patients from different hospitals throughout the world, known as the Randomised Evaluation of Surgery with Craniectomy for Uncontrollable Elevation of Intracranial Pressure, a decrease in deaths related to traumatic brain injury that caused brain swelling was noted. The study spanned several years and found that victims of traumatic brain injuries causing severe swelling from incidents such as severe falls or vehicle accidents who underwent decompressive surgery had a fatality rate of 26.9 percent compared to the control group’s fatality rate of 48.9 percent. Members of the control group did not undergo decompressive surgery.

What are the risks?

While decompressive surgery offers hope for victims of severe traumatic brain injuries, it does not come without complications. Many times, the procedure leaves people with moderate or severe disabilities. It is often difficult to distinguish whether or not the level of disability would have been the same without decompressive surgery, but the study does make it obvious that such surgeries save lives. However, a moral dilemma is created because some patients remain in a vegetative state even with specialized medical procedures and care. Other patients may require long-term care, and even those able to return to living independently may require assistance when in public.

The study’s lead author has been frank about the potential outcome of decompressive surgery and the results of this study, noting that it may encourage some medical professionals to perform more of these procedures while at the same time discouraging other medical professionals from performing it. According to Medscape, the lead author of the study also notes that other treatments for severe brain pressure caused by swelling as a result of a traumatic brain injury have not been shown to be successful in relieving the pressure or decreasing fatalities as a result of increased pressure. At the very least, this study may suggest that more research into decompressive surgery as a treatment for pressure resulting from traumatic brain injury may begin offering new alternatives that could help save more lives. With increased attention being paid to decompressive surgical techniques, it is possible that advancements in the procedure could ultimately benefit victims by not only saving their lives, but by potentially allowing them to lead lives as close to normal as possible. The article and the author both note that more extensive research will be needed as this is the first time a study has been done on the outcome of these procedures.

Legal Implications of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are a number of new techniques available to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries. However, these techniques do not always guarantee a positive outcome for the victim, either from the injury itself or because the injury was misdiagnosed or mistreated. Whatever the reason, consequences of traumatic brain injuries can be severe and can take a large financial toll on a victim’s family. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a traumatic brain injury, you may be eligible for compensation. Such compensation may even be able to take into account the potential long-term repercussions and cost of care of the injury. The personal injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have been working with victims of traumatic brain injuries in Illinois for years, and can use that experience to help you understand options that may be available to you in your circumstances. Contact the personal injury team at Levin & Perconti to schedule a consultation about the circumstances surrounding your potential case.


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