Management of simultaneous traumatic brain injury and aortic injury

Clinical article

Ryan S. Kitagawa M.D.1, Robert M. Van Haren M.D.2, Shoji Yokobori M.D., Ph.D.1,3, David Cohen B.S.1, Samuel R. Beckerman B.S.1, Faiz Ahmad M.D.1, and M. Ross Bullock M.D., Ph.D.1
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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery,
  • | 2 Dewitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida; and
  • | 3 Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan
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Object

Simultaneous traumatic brain injury (TBI) and aortic injury has been considered unsurvivable for many years because treatments such as sedation and blood pressure goals conflict for these 2 conditions. Additionally, surgical interventions for aortic injury often require full anticoagulation, which is contraindicated in patients with TBI. For these reasons, and due to the relative rarity of aortic injury/TBI, little data are available to guide treating physicians.

Methods

A retrospective review was performed on all simultaneous TBI and aortic injury cases from 2000 to 2012 at a university-affiliated, Level I trauma center. Patient demographics, imaging studies, interventions, and outcomes were analyzed. Traumatic brain injury/aortic injury cases treated with endovascular stenting were specifically studied to determine trends in procedure timing, use of anticoagulation, and neurological outcome.

Results

Thirty-three patients with concurrent TBI and aortic injury were identified over a 12-year period. The median patient age was 44 years (range 16–86 years) and the overall mortality rate after imaging diagnosis was 46%. All surviving patients were awake and neurologically functional at discharge, and 83% were discharged home or to rehabilitation facilities. Patients who died had a higher Injury Severity Scale score (p = 0.006). Severe TBI (p = 0.045) or hemodynamic instability (p = 0.015) upon arrival to the hospital was also correlated with increased mortality rates. Thirty-three percent of aortic injury/TBI patients (n = 11) underwent endovascular stenting, and 7 of these patients received intravenous anticoagulation therapy at the time of surgery. Six of these 7 anticoagulation-treated patients experienced no significant progression on postoperative brain CT, whereas 1 patient died of hemodynamic instability prior to undergoing further imaging.

Conclusions

Simultaneous TBI and aortic injury is a rare condition with a historically poor prognosis. However, these results suggest that many patients can survive with a good quality of life. Technological advances such as endovascular aortic stenting may improve patient outcome, and anticoagulation is not absolutely contraindicated after TBI.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

GCS = Glasgow Coma Scale; ISS = Injury Severity Scale; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; SDH = subdural hematoma; TBI = traumatic brain injury.

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