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A new improved method for assessing brain deformation after decompressive craniectomy.



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Fletcher, Tim L 
Kolias, Angelos G 
Hutchinson, Peter J 
Sutcliffe, Michael PF 


BACKGROUND: Decompressive craniectomy (DC) is a surgical intervention used following traumatic brain injury to prevent or alleviate raised intracranial pressure. However the clinical effectiveness of the intervention remains in doubt. The location of the craniectomy (unilateral or bifrontal) might be expected to change the brain deformation associated with the operation and hence the clinical outcome. As existing methods for assessing brain deformation have several limitations, we sought to develop and validate a new improved method. METHODS: Computed tomography (CT) scans were taken from 27 patients who underwent DC (17 bifrontal patients and 10 unilateral patients). Pre-operative and post-operative images were processed and registered to determine the change in brain position associated with the operation. The maximum deformation in the herniated brain, the change in volume and estimates of the craniectomy area were determined from the images. Statistical comparison was made using the Pearson's correlation coefficient r and a Welch's two-tailed T-test, with statistical significance reported at the 5% level. RESULTS: There was a reasonable correlation between the volume increase and the maximum brain displacement (r = 0.64), a low correlation between the volume increase and the craniectomy area (r = 0.30) and no correlation between the maximum displacement and the craniectomy area (r = -0.01). The maximum deformation was significantly lower (P  = 0.023) in the bifrontal patients (mean = 22.5 mm) compared with the unilateral patients (mean = 29.8 mm). Herniation volume was significantly lower (P = 0.023) in bifrontal (mean = 50.0 ml) than unilateral patients (mean = 107.3 ml). Craniectomy area was not significantly different for the two craniectomy locations (P = 0.29). CONCLUSIONS: A method has been developed to quantify changes in brain deformation due to decompressive craniectomy from CT images and allow comparison between different craniectomy locations. Measured displacement is a reasonable way to characterise volume changes.



Brain, Brain Injuries, Decompressive Craniectomy, Humans, Hypertensive Encephalopathy, Organ Size, Postoperative Period, Tomography, X-Ray Computed

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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Medical Research Council (G0601025)
TCC (None)
TLF acknowledges funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). AGK is supported by a Royal College of Surgeons of England Research Fellowship (funded by the Freemasons and the Rosetrees Trust), a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Fellowship and a Raymond and Beverly Sackler Studentship. PJH is supported by a NIHR Research Professorship and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.