Published: 2021-09-28

Analysis of prognostic factors and complications following decompressive craniectomy for traumatic brain injury

Ranjith Chittikappil Gopalan, Shaji Urambath Abu, Ljo John Kollannur, Rony Louis


Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Decompressive craniectomy (DC) is a common surgery done for patients with TBI. An analysis of factors that determine the outcome and complications will go a long way in improving the prognosis of such patients.

Methods: This is a single‑center, retrospective study of TBI patients who underwent DC from March 2016 to February 2020 at a tertiary care hospital in South India. Demographic profile, clinical data, radiological findings, intraoperative observations, postoperative complications, and Glasgow Outcome Score (GOS) at discharge were noted.

Results: 164 patients underwent DC. Road Traffic Accident was the most common cause (116 patients) 71%. The mortality rate among patients with a motor score of M1 was 73.8%, 77.8% in the M2 group, 54.4%, 34.6%, and 10.6% in M3, M4, and M5 groups respectively. The survival rate among patients with bilaterally dilated pupils was 18.1%. 48.3% and 62.1% in those with unequal and equal reactive pupils respectively. The most common pathology was subdural hemorrhage in 108 (65.9%). External cerebral herniation was seen in 62 cases (37.8%). The mortality rate was 39% (64 patients). Persistent vegetative state was noted in 6.1% (10 patients) and severe disability in 24.4% (40 patients). Poor outcome was seen in 69.5% (114 patients). Primary DC was done in 113 patients (68.9%) with a mortality rate of 39.8% (45 patients) and secondary DC in 51 patients (31.1%) with a mortality rate of 37.2% (19 patients).

Conclusions: Preoperative low motor score and dilated pupils were associated with higher mortality rate. The most common pathologies were subdural hemorrhage (SDH) and contusion and external cerebral herniation was the most common complication. Primary DC had a higher mortality rate than secondary DC.


Traumatic brain injury, Decompressive craniectomy, Prognostic factors, Complications

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