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Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in children worldwide. In severe cases, high intracranial pressure is the most frequent cause of death. When first-line medical management fails, the neurosurgical procedure of decompressive craniectomy (DC) has been proposed for controlling intracranial pressure and improving the long-term outcomes for children with severe traumatic brain injury. However, the use of this procedure is controversial. The evidence from clinical trials shows some promise for the use of DC as an effective second-line treatment. However, it is limited by conflicting trial results, a lack of trials, and a high risk of bias. Furthermore, most research comes from retrospective observational studies and case series. This narrative review considers the strength of evidence for the use of DC in both a high income country and low-and-middle income country setting and examine how we can improve study design to better assess the efficacy of this procedure and increase the clinical translatability of results to centers worldwide. Specifically, we argue for a need for further studies with higher pediatric participant numbers, multicenter collaboration, and the use of a more consistent methodology to enable comparability of results among settings.

Original publication




Journal article


World Neurosurg

Publication Date





251 - 260.e1


Decompressive craniectomy, Evidence-based medicine, Pediatric, Traumatic brain injury, Brain Injuries, Traumatic, Child, Clinical Trials as Topic, Decompressive Craniectomy, Developed Countries, Humans, Intracranial Pressure, Retrospective Studies, Treatment Outcome