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Halinder S. Mangat, Ya-Lin Chiu, Linda M. Gerber, Marjan Alimi, Jamshid Ghajar, and Roger Härtl


Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with a higher mortality rate and poor outcome. Mannitol and hypertonic saline (HTS) have both been used to treat high ICP, but it is unclear which one is more effective. Here, the authors compare the effect of mannitol versus HTS on lowering the cumulative and daily ICP burdens after severe TBI.


The Brain Trauma Foundation TBI-trac New York State database was used for this retrospective study. Patients with severe TBI and intracranial hypertension who received only 1 type of hyperosmotic agent, mannitol or HTS, were included. Patients in the 2 groups were individually matched for Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS), pupillary reactivity, craniotomy, occurrence of hypotension on Day 1, and the day of ICP monitor insertion. Patients with missing or erroneous data were excluded. Cumulative and daily ICP burdens were used as primary outcome measures. The cumulative ICP burden was defined as the total number of days with an ICP of > 25 mm Hg, expressed as a percentage of the total number of days of ICP monitoring. The daily ICP burden was calculated as the mean daily duration of an ICP of > 25 mm Hg, expressed as the number of hours per day. The numbers of intensive care unit (ICU) days, numbers of days with ICP monitoring, and 2-week mortality rates were also compared between the groups. A 2-sample t-test or chi-square test was used to compare independent samples. The Wilcoxon signed-rank or Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test was used for comparing matched samples.


A total of 35 patients who received only HTS and 477 who received only mannitol after severe TBI were identified. Eight patients in the HTS group were excluded because of erroneous or missing data, and 2 other patients did not have matches in the mannitol group. The remaining 25 patients were matched 1:1. Twenty-four patients received 3% HTS, and 1 received 23.4% HTS as bolus therapy. All 25 patients in the mannitol group received 20% mannitol. The mean cumulative ICP burden (15.52% [HTS] vs 36.5% [mannitol]; p = 0.003) and the mean (± SD) daily ICP burden (0.3 ± 0.6 hours/day [HTS] vs 1.3 ± 1.3 hours/day [mannitol]; p = 0.001) were significantly lower in the HTS group. The mean (± SD) number of ICU days was significantly lower in the HTS group than in the mannitol group (8.5 ± 2.1 vs 9.8 ± 0.6, respectively; p = 0.004), whereas there was no difference in the numbers of days of ICP monitoring (p = 0.09). There were no significant differences between the cumulative median doses of HTS and mannitol (p = 0.19). The 2-week mortality rate was lower in the HTS group, but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.56).


HTS given as bolus therapy was more effective than mannitol in lowering the cumulative and daily ICP burdens after severe TBI. Patients in the HTS group had significantly lower number of ICU days. The 2-week mortality rates were not statistically different between the 2 groups.

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Halinder S. Mangat, Xian Wu, Linda M. Gerber, Hamisi K. Shabani, Albert Lazaro, Andreas Leidinger, Maria M. Santos, Paul H. McClelland, Hanna Schenck, Pascal Joackim, Japhet G. Ngerageza, Franziska Schmidt, Philip E. Stieg, and Roger Hartl


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.


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.


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.


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.