One of the more common reasons for emergency room visits is head trauma. A new study published in November’s issue of the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Neurosurgery, has shown that low oxygen supply, or hypoxia, to vulnerable brain tissue is a crucial factor in the risk of death or severe disability after serious traumatic brain injury (TBI.)
The study showed that the larger the decrease in brain oxygenation, the higher the risk of severe disability or death. The study strongly suggests that patients with prolonged periods of brain hypoxia have an increased likelihood of having poor prognosis separate from the results of intracranial pressure, brain blood flow, and other risk factors.
The results of the study support the recommendation of including brain oxygen monitoring as a part of an integrated monitoring policy after severe TBI. Results are not yet in as to whether treatment adjustments in response to the brain oxygenation monitoring lead to improved outcomes in patients with severe TBI.
Joanne Abisaab, MD, practices emergency room medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital.