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Increased Intracranial Pressure and Pulmonary Edema

Part 1: Clinical Study of 11 Patients

Thomas B. Ducker

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Thomas G. Saul and Thomas B. Ducker

✓ During 1977–1978, 127 patients with severe head injury were admitted and underwent intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring. All patients had Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores of 7 or less. All received identical initial treatment according to a standardized protocol. The patients' average age was 29 years; 60% had multiple trauma, and 35% needed emergency intracranial operations. Treatment for elevations of ICP was begun when ICP rose to 20 to 25 mm Hg, and included mannitol therapy and drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) when possible. Forty-three patients (34%) had ICP greater than or equal to 25 mm Hg; of these, 36 (84%) died. The mortality rate of the entire group was 46%.

During 1979–1980, 106 patients with severe head injury were admitted and underwent ICP monitoring. Their average age was 29 years; 51% had multiple trauma, and 31% underwent emergency intracranial surgery. All patients received the same standardized protocol as the previous series, with the exception of the treatment of ICP. In this present series: if ICP was 15 mm Hg or less (normal ICP), patients were continued on hyperventilation, steroids, and intensive care; if ICP was 16 to 24 mm Hg, mannitol was administered and CSF was drained; if ICP was 25 mm Hg or greater, the patients were randomized into a controlled barbiturate therapy study. Twenty-six patients (25%) had ICP's of 25 mm Hg or greater, compared to 34% in the previous series (p < 0.05), and 18 of these 26 patients (69%) died. The overall mortality for this current series was 28% compared to 46% in the previous series (p < 0.0005).

This study reconfirms the high mortality rate if ICP is 25 mm Hg or greater; however, the data also document that early aggressive treatment based on ICP monitoring significantly lessens the incidence of ICP of 25 mm Hg or greater and reduces the overall mortality rate of severe head injury.

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Richard P. Greenberg and Thomas B. Ducker

✓ The use of evoked potentials for the evaluation of disorders of the nervous system has become a most valuable aid to the neurosurgeon and neurologist, often providing information of critical value without recourse to invasive techniques. In order to employ these techniques, it is helpful to understand the principles of evoked potential electrogenesis and the methodology used for analysis of evoked potential clinical data. This article is aimed at providing the clinical neurosurgeon with this type of information and with a review of current clinical applications in this rapidly developing field.

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Thomas B. Ducker and Harold F. Hamit

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Increased Intracranial Pressure and Pulmonary Edema

Part 2: The Hemodynamic Response of Dogs and Monkeys to Increased Intracranial Pressure

Thomas B. Ducker and Richard L. Simmons

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Steroids in severe head injury

A prospective randomized clinical trial

Thomas G. Saul, Thomas B. Ducker, Michael Salcman and Eric Carro

✓ This is a prospective randomized study of the efficacy of steroid therapy in patients with severe head injury. One hundred patients were randomized into two equal groups: the steroid group received 5 mg/kg/day of methylprednisolone, and the nonsteroid group received no drug. The groups were similar in their clinical features. All patients received a standardized therapeutic regimen. The patients were also classified as early responders or nonresponders to the overall treatment protocol without regard to steroid administration, on the basis of change in Glasgow Coma Scale score during the first 3 days of admission. There was no statistically significant difference in the outcome of the steroid and nonsteroid group at 6 months. Of the responders who were on steroids, 74% had good outcomes or were disabled, compared with 56% of the responders who did not receive steroids. In the nonresponder group, the patients on steroids were actually associated with a worse outcome than those who did not receive steroids: 75% of the nonresponders who received steroids were dead or vegetative, compared to 56% of those who were not receiving steroids. The data suggest that: 1) the effect of steroids may be different for different patient groups; 2) in order to identify these patients, a sensitive coma scale is needed; and 3) a rational approach to steroid therapy in head-injured patients may be to start all patients on steroids, but to discontinue their use in patients identified as not benefiting from steroid therapy.

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Thomas B. Ducker, Glenn W. Kindt and Ludwig G. Kempe

✓ This study shows that spinal cord pathology secondary to acute trauma in monkeys evolves with stepwise sequential changes. The acute damage is more central than peripheral. Depending on the amount of trauma, the subacute damage may be limited to central gray necrosis or may progress or evolve to include the neighboring white matter. These pathological changes may be taking place even in the presence of clinical improvement.

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Wide variation in risk of wound infection following clean neurosurgery

Implications for perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis

James H. Tenney, David Vlahov, Michael Salcman and Thomas B. Ducker

✓ The authors have prospectively examined the occurrence of postoperative wound infection following clean neurosurgery in 936 patients. Fewer than 1% received perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis. The overall rate of deep wound infection was 2.6%; no deaths were directly attributable to these infections. Deep wound infections occurred significantly more frequently following craniotomy (4.3%) than following spinal (0.9%) or other clean neurosurgery. Among craniotomies, the deep wound infection rate varied significantly from 11% following repeat operations for recurrent gliomas to 2.5% following non-tumor surgery. Risk of deep wound infection varied more than 11-fold depending on the type of clean neurosurgical operation. It is most feasible to demonstrate the potential efficacy of perioperative antibiotics in clean neurosurgical procedures with the greatest risk of postoperative wound infection. The potential benefit from such prophylaxis would be greatest for patients undergoing these high-risk operations.

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Louis Rosa, Mark Carol, Roberto Bellegarrigue and Thomas B. Ducker

✓ The case of a patient with multiple bilateral cranial nerve palsies and spinal cord sparing secondary to a stable hyperextension injury to C-1 is presented.