Severe traumatic brain injury management in Tanzania: analysis of a prospective cohort

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  • 1 Departments of Neurology,
  • | 2 Neurological Surgery, Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Institute, and
  • | 3 Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York;
  • | 4 Department of Neurological Surgery, Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; and
  • | 5 University of Maastricht, The Netherlands
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OBJECTIVE

Given the high burden of neurotrauma in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), in this observational study, the authors evaluated the treatment and outcomes of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) accessing care at the national neurosurgical institute in Tanzania.

METHODS

A neurotrauma registry was established at Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute, Dar-es-Salaam, and patients with severe TBI admitted within 24 hours of injury were included. Detailed emergency department and subsequent medical and surgical management of patients was recorded. Two-week mortality was measured and compared with estimates of predicted mortality computed with admission clinical variables using the Corticoid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury (CRASH) core model.

RESULTS

In total, 462 patients (mean age 33.9 years) with severe TBI were enrolled over 4.5 years; 89% of patients were male. The mean time to arrival to the hospital after injury was 8 hours; 48.7% of patients had advanced airway management in the emergency department, 55% underwent cranial CT scanning, and 19.9% underwent surgical intervention. Tiered medical therapies for intracranial hypertension were used in less than 50% of patients. The observed 2-week mortality was 67%, which was 24% higher than expected based on the CRASH core model.

CONCLUSIONS

The 2-week mortality from severe TBI at a tertiary referral center in Tanzania was 67%, which was significantly higher than the predicted estimates. The higher mortality was related to gaps in the continuum of care of patients with severe TBI, including cardiorespiratory monitoring, resuscitation, neuroimaging, and surgical rates, along with lower rates of utilization of available medical therapies. In ongoing work, the authors are attempting to identify reasons associated with the gaps in care to implement programmatic improvements. Capacity building by twinning provides an avenue for acquiring data to accurately estimate local needs and direct programmatic education and interventions to reduce excess in-hospital mortality from TBI.

ABBREVIATIONS

CRASH = Corticoid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury; ED = emergency department; GCS = Glasgow Coma Scale; HIC = high-income country; IMPACT = International Mission for Prognosis and Analysis of Clinical Trials; LIC = low-income country; LMIC = low- and middle-income country; MOI = Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute; SBP = systolic blood pressure; TBI = traumatic brain injury.

Illustration from Kim et al. (pp 1164–1172). Copyright Eui Hyun Kim. Published with permission.

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