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Decompressive craniectomy following traumatic brain injury: developing the evidence base.

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Kolias, Angelos G 
Adams, Hadie 
Timofeev, Ivan 
Corteen, Elizabeth A 


In the context of traumatic brain injury (TBI), decompressive craniectomy (DC) is used as part of tiered therapeutic protocols for patients with intracranial hypertension (secondary or protocol-driven DC). In addition, the bone flap can be left out when evacuating a mass lesion, usually an acute subdural haematoma (ASDH), in the acute phase (primary DC). Even though, the principle of "opening the skull" in order to control brain oedema and raised intracranial pressure has been practised since the beginning of the 20th century, the last 20 years have been marked by efforts to develop the evidence base with the conduct of randomised trials. This article discusses the merits and challenges of this approach and provides an overview of randomised trials of DC following TBI. An update on the RESCUEicp study, a randomised trial of DC versus advanced medical management (including barbiturates) for severe and refractory post-traumatic intracranial hypertension is provided. In addition, the rationale for the RESCUE-ASDH study, the first randomised trial of primary DC versus craniotomy for adult head-injured patients with an ASDH, is presented.



Acute subdural haematoma, brain oedema, clinical trial, intracranial pressure, traumatic brain injury, Biometry, Brain Edema, Brain Injuries, Traumatic, Decompressive Craniectomy, Humans, Intracranial Hypertension, Intracranial Pressure, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Treatment Outcome

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Br J Neurosurg

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Informa UK Limited
Medical Research Council (G0600986)
Medical Research Council (G9439390)
Medical Research Council (G0001237)
Medical Research Council (G0601025)
TCC (None)
Medical Research Council (G0600986/1)
The RESCUEicp study is funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme, an MRC and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) partnership (project number 09/800/16). The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the MRC, NHS, NIHR or the Department of Health. The RESCUE-ASDH study is funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme (project number 12/35/57). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Health Technology Assessment programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.