Treatment for traumatic brain injuries, can include, surgery and/or rehabilitation
Neurosurgery is a type of surgery used to treat problems with the brain, spinal cord and nerves, commonly known as the nervous system.
Neurosurgery is required in 1-3% of people who have suffered a severe head injury.
Reasons for someone requiring neurosurgery include;
- A haemorrhage (severe bleeding) inside the head, which puts pressure on the brain and could result in brain damage, and in severe cases death
- A haematoma (blood clot) inside the head, can put pressure on the brain
- Cerebral contusions (bruising on the brain), can develop into blood clots
- Skull fracture
The above conditions will be identified during tests, such as a CT scan or MRI scan.
Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Monitoring
This procedure is only usually carried out on those who have suffered a moderate or severe brain injury.
It involves inserting a bolt in to the skull, a catheter is then attached to the bolt which is in turn connected to a gauge that registers the amount of pressure within the skull. This allows the medical staff to monitor the intracranial pressure (ICP).
The medical staff may try to keep the ICP down by;
- Controlling body temperature (low/normal)
- Raising the head of the bed
- Sedating the patient to keep them still and comfortable
- Ensuring the patient is breathing properly
- Administering medication
- Hypertensive therapies
A craniotomy involves making a hole in the skull in order for the surgeon to gain access to the brain. Once the surgeon has access to the brain they will remove any blood clots that have formed and repair damaged vessels. When the surgeon has completed the procedure they will then replace the piece of skull and reattach it.
CT (computerised tomography) Scan
This scan is painless and takes between 10-30 minutes. In this time a series of x-rays are taken, which then build up a 3D image of the inside of the body. In some circumstances it may be necessary to have a drink or an injection of dye, this allows a particular area to be seen more clearly.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) Scan
This machine uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed image of the body.
A MRI scan can be used to examine;
- The brain and spinal cord
- Bones and joints
- The heart and blood vessels
- Internal organs
Images can be used as a diagnostic tool, to aid treatment plans and to asses how effective treatment has been.