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Ramin Eskandari, Michael R. Filtz, Gary E. Davis and Robert E. Hoesch

Object

Normal intracranial pressure (ICP) and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) have been identified as favorable prognostic factors in the outcome of patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Osmotic diuretics and hypertonic saline (HTS) are commonly used to treat elevated ICP in patients with TBI; however, sustained effects of repeated high-concentration HTS boluses for severely refractory ICP elevation have not been studied. The authors' goal in this study was to determine whether repeated 14.6% HTS boluses were efficacious in treating severely refractory intracranial hypertension in patients with TBI.

Methods

In a prospective cohort study in a neurocritical care unit, adult TBI patients with sustained ICP > 30 mm Hg for more than 30 minutes after exhaustive medical and/or surgical therapy received repeated 15-minute boluses of 14.6% HTS over 12 hours through central venous access.

Results

Response to treatment was evaluated in 11 patients. Within 5 minutes of bolus administration, mean ICP decreased from 40 to 33 mm Hg (30% reduction, p < 0.05). Intracranial pressure–lowering effects were sustained for 12 hours (41% reduction, p < 0.05) with multiple boluses (mean number of boluses 7 ± 5.5). The mean CPP increased 22% and 32% from baseline at 15 and 30 minutes, respectively (p < 0.05). The mean serum sodium level (SNa) at baseline was 155 ± 7.1 mEq/L, and after multiple boluses of 14.6% HTS, SNa at 12 hours was 154 ± 7.1 mEq/L. The mean heart rate, systolic blood pressure, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine demonstrated no significant change throughout the study.

Conclusions

The subset of TBI patients with intracranial hypertension that is completely refractory to all other medical therapies can be treated effectively and safely with repeated boluses of 14.6% HTS rather than a one-time dose.

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Walavan Sivakumar, Michael Jensen, Julie Martinez, Michael Tanana, Nancy Duncan, Robert Hoesch, Jay K. Riva-Cambrin, Craig Kilburg, Safdar Ansari and Paul A. House

OBJECTIVE

Acute pain control after cranial surgery is challenging. Prior research has shown that patients experience inadequate pain control post-craniotomy. The use of oral medications is sometimes delayed because of postoperative nausea, and the use of narcotics can impair the evaluation of brain function and thus are used judiciously. Few nonnarcotic intravenous (IV) analgesics exist. The authors present the results of the first prospective study evaluating the use of IV acetaminophen in patients after elective craniotomy.

METHODS

The authors conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled investigation. Adults undergoing elective, supratentorial craniotomies between September 2013 and June 2015 were randomized into two groups. The experimental group received 1000 mg/100 ml IV acetaminophen every 8 hours for 48 hours. The placebo group received 100 ml of 0.9% normal saline on the same schedule. Both groups were also treated with a standardized pain control algorithm. The study was powered to detect a 30% difference in the primary outcome measures: narcotic consumption (morphine equivalents, ME) at 24 and 48 hours after surgery. Patient-reported pain scores immediately postoperatively and 48 hours after surgery were also recorded.

RESULTS

A total of 204 patients completed the trial. No significant differences were found in narcotic consumption between groups at either time point (in the treatment and placebo groups, respectively, at 24 hours: 84.3 ME [95% CI 70.2–98.4] and 85.5 ME [95% CI 73–97.9]; and at 48 hours: 123.5 ME [95% CI 102.9–144.2] and 134.2 ME [95% CI 112.1–156.3]). The difference in improvement in patient-reported pain scores between the treatment and placebo groups was significant (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who received postoperative IV acetaminophen after craniotomy did not have significantly decreased narcotic consumption but did experience significantly lower pain scores after surgery. The drug was well tolerated and safe in this patient population.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01948505 (clinicaltrials.gov)