Transtentorial brain herniation is a major cause of morbidity and death following severe closed head injury. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of selective uncoparahippocampectomy and tentorial splitting as an adjuvant method of treating otherwise uncontrollable elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) while attempting to prevent or minimize the devastating consequences caused by transtentorial herniation.
The authors retrospectively reviewed data from a series of 80 consecutive cases of severe closed head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] score <8) treated in their neurosurgical unit. All patients had elevated ICP and downward tentorial herniation, as documented with ICP monitoring, and clinical examination and computed tomography, respectively. Given the evidence of acute and ongoing neurological deterioration, all patients were treated with selective uncoparahippocampectomy and tentorial edge incision followed by wide decompressive craniectomy and duraplasty.
All injuries were caused by blunt trauma with signs of acute and/or progressive increased ICP causing downward transtentorial herniation. Fifty-eight patients were male and 22 were female with a mean age of 35 years and a mean preoperative GCS score of 5. Based on the current American Association of Neurological Surgeons guidelines for head trauma, an intraparenchymal ICP device (Camino, Integra) was placed in all patients who had a GCS score <8, and ICP was consistently >20 cm H2O. Whenever possible, risks and benefits were explained to family members, and then surgery was performed within 3–16 hours (median 6 hours). At a mean follow-up of 30 months, the outcome was favorable (Glasgow Outcome Scale [GOS] score of 4 or 5) in 60 patients (75%) and unfavorable (GOS score of 3) in 8 (10%), whereas the remaining 12 patients (15%) died at some point during the postoperative course. There was no survivor patient in a vegetative state. A younger age had a significant effect on positive outcome (p < 0.0005), as did an earlier operation (p < 0.04). The preoperative neurological status as assessed using the GCS as well as pupillary reactivity had no significant effect on outcome (p = 0.054 and p > 0.05, respectively).
A selective uncoparahippocampectomy with a tentorial edge incision and a wide decompressive craniectomy with duraplasty can be an effective adjuvant form of aggressive treatment to improve outcome in patients with severe closed head injury, especially in those who are younger if they are treated promptly.