It is generally believed that the outcome of traumatic brain injury is not improved by decompressive craniectomy in patients older than 30–50 years. A literature search was performed to assess the level of evidence with respect to the effect of age on outcome in these cases.
References were identified by PubMed searches of journal articles published between 1995 and December 2008. The inclusion criteria were as follows: 1) clinical series including adults; and 2) focus on age as a prognostic factor. Technical notes and laboratory investigations were excluded.
Fourteen English-language articles were finally selected. In 5 of the 14 studies, the authors performed no statistical analysis. In 6 studies they concluded that age was not significantly related to outcome (with 1 of these studies showing a correlation between age and outcome only after 65 years). Three studies showed a correlation between age and outcome.
With respect to age and effectiveness of decompressive craniectomy, there are no robust data to establish any degree of core evidence and the referred age thresholds are arbitrary.