Clinical trials have shown that intravenous albumin and decompressive craniectomy to treat early refractory intracranial hypertension can cause harm in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The extent to which these treatments remain in use is unknown. We conducted a multi-center retrospective cohort study of adult patients with severe TBI admitted to five neurotrauma centers across Australia between April 2013 and March 2015. Patients were identified from local trauma and intensive care unit (ICU) registries and followed until hospital discharge. Main outcome measures were the administration of intravenous albumin, and decompressive craniectomy for intracranial hypertension. Analyses were predominantly descriptive. There were 303 patients with severe TBI, of whom a minority received albumin (6.9%) or underwent early decompressive craniectomy for treatment of refractory intracranial hypertension complicating diffuse TBI (2.3%). The median (intequartile range [IQR]) age was 35 (24, 58), and most injuries were caused by road traffic accidents (57.4%) or falls (25.1%). Overall, 34.3% of patients died while in the hospital and the remainder were discharged to rehabilitation (44.6%), other health care facilities (4.6%), or home (16.5%). There were no patient characteristics significantly associated with use of albumin or craniectomy. Intravenous albumin and craniectomy for treatment of intracranial hypertension were used infrequently in Australian neurotrauma centers, indicating alignment between best available evidence and practice.
- decompressive craniectomy
- traumatic brain injury