Despite being common practice for decades and being recommended by national guidelines, aggressive monitoring and treatment of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) have not been supported by convincing evidence.
The authors reviewed trials and case series reported after 1970 in which patients were treated for severe closed TBI, and mortality rates and favorable outcomes at 6 months after injury were analyzed. The patient groups were divided into those with and without intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring and intensive therapy, and the authors performed a meta-analysis to assess the effects of treatment intensity on outcome.
Although the mortality rate fell during the years reviewed, it was consistently ~ 12% lower among patients in the intense treatment group (p < 0.001). Favorable outcomes did not change significantly over time, and were 6% higher among the aggressively treated patients (p = 0.0105).
Aggressive ICP monitoring and treatment of patients with severe TBI is associated with a statistically significant improvement in outcome. This improvement occurs independently of temporal effects.