Guidelines for the treatment of adults with severe head trauma (Part I). Initial assessment; evaluation and pre-hospital treatment; current criteria for hospital admission; systemic and cerebral monitoring

F. Procaccio, N. Stocchetti, G. Citerio, M. Berardino, L. Beretta, F. Della Corte, D. D'Avella, G. L. Brambilla, R. Delfini, F. Servadei, G. Tomei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


If pragmatic recommendations for treatment of severely head-injured patients could really be applied, they would probably have a considerable impact in terms of reduction in mortality and disability. Since 1995 a Group of Italian Neurointensivists and Neurosurgeons belonging to the Italian Societies of Neurosurgery (SINch) and Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) has produced this first part of recommendations that are completed by Medical treatment (Part II) and Surgical treatment criteria (Part III). These recommendations reflect a multidisciplinary consent but are based on scientific evidence, when available, and take origin mainly from expert opinions and the current clinical and organizational situation. For this aspect they differ from other American and European guidelines, which are strictly based on criteria of proven efficacy. These recommendations aim at providing a practical reference for all those dealing with severe head injuries from first-aid to intensive care units, setting out the minimal goals of management to be reached throughout the country. For these reasons they need continual critical review and updating. Main clinical aims are: 1) to prevent secondary cerebral damage by continuous and meticulous maintenance of systemic homeostasis 2) to standardize methods of neurological evaluation and CT scan classification and scheduling; 3) to give simple indications for systemic and cerebral monitoring 4) to pragmatically discuss the organizational scenarios and specify the minimal safe clinical approach when patients are treated in non-specialized settings. Briefly, smooth tracheal intubation and ventilation in all comatose patients, administration of rapidly metabolized sedative and analgesic drugs to permit frequent neurological evaluation, restoration of volemia and systolic blood pressure above 110 mmHg, oxygen saturation > 95% and normocapnia, are all recommended from the very early treatment and transport. Homogeneity of language, reliable and correctly tested Glasgow Coma Score and pupillary reflexes, and a simple CT scan classification are recommended to improve communications and clinical decisions in the multidisciplinary setting of management. In comatose patients, cerebral perfusion pressure, intracranial pressure and oxygen jugular saturation must be monitored according to specific criteria, which are described. Therapy with hyperventilation and mannitol should be used only in case of clinical deterioration and uncal herniation. This therapy could be useful to gain time to reach neurosurgery. The aim of these recommendations is to achieve safer management of severely brain injured patients, immediate diagnosis of clinical deterioration and successful identification and treatment of surgical lesions. The impact of these guidelines requires further verification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • First-aid
  • Guidelines of treatment
  • ICP monitoring
  • Jugular oxygen saturation
  • Management of severe brain injuries
  • Severe head injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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