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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
Minerva Anestesiologica 1999 June;65(6):353-6
Head injury and politrauma: from the street to the operating room
Stocchetti N., Longhi L., Magnoni S., Rossi S., Rotelli S.
Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico IRCCS - Milano, Terapia Intensiva Neuroscienze, Servizio di Anestesia e Rianimazione
Brain injury occurs with a range of severity: even less severe cases should be carefully observed since they may deteriorate. By definition severe head injury has a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or less; comatose patients are defined as cases who do not obey commands, do not open their eyes and do not speak. Very often (50% of case in our series) brain injury is associated with relevant extracranial injuries that may add to the severity of cases and may worsen outcome. The conceptual framework for treating head injury is based on the evidence that after the impact, the initial damage may be exacerbated by insults capable of further disturbing cerebral metabolism, leading to a final damage defined as secondary damage. Secondary damage represents the final end of many pathways that can be studied at the biochemical level and are centered in a calcium influx into the neuronal cell. Most probably there is a genetic susceptibility to secondary damage leading to a range of cellular dis-functions for any given level of insult. The management of traumatic brain injury is aimed at interrupting the chain of events leading to secondary brain damage and from this perspective the fact that damage may develop over time can be seen as a window of opportunity for timely treatment. The milestone of treatment is the removal of surgical masses. This surgical treatment can be performed only in a brain that is properly perfused and once coagulation is preserved. Therefore the organization of treatment from rescue to neuro-traumatological centers should provide appropriate restoration of the volume and a normal oxygen delivery to the brain and to the overall organism.