Critical CareEvidence Based MedicineIntensive CareNeuroSMACCDebate: Neurocritical Care Improves Outcomes in Severe TBI

Debate – Neurocritical Care Improves Outcomes in Severe TBI by Martin Smith and Mark Wilson

Martin Smith and Mark Wilson debate whether neurocritical care improves outcomes in severe TBI.

Martin argues in favour of neurocritical care.

He concedes that longstanding and established practices are not as efficacious or innocuous as previously believed.

Very few specific interventions have been shown to improve outcomes in large randomised controlled trials. With the possible exception of avoidance of hypotension and hypoxaemia, most are based on analysis of physiology and pathophysiology.

Further, the substantial temporal and regional pathophysiological heterogeneity after TBI means that some interventions may be ineffective, unnecessary, or even harmful in certain patients at certain times.

Martin however, contends that improved understanding of pathophysiology and advances in neuromonitoring and imaging techniques have led to more effective and individualised treatment strategies. Ultimately, this has led to improved outcomes for patients.

In particular, the sole goal of identifying and treating intracranial hypertension has been superseded by a focus on the prevention of secondary brain insults. This is done by using a systematic, stepwise approach to maintenance of adequate cerebral perfusion and oxygenation.

Similarly, multimodal neuromonitoring also gives clinicians confidence to withhold potentially dangerous therapy. Particuarly in those with no evidence of brain ischemia/hypoxia or metabolic disturbance.

Mark Wilson on the other hand argues there is no benefit in neurocritical care following severe TBI.

The New England Journal of Medicine has published several articles that demonstrate no benefit from classic neurotrauma interventions (ICP monitoring, cooling, decompression). This is because factors such as ICP and CPP associate with bad outcomes by association rather than causation.

This debate will demonstrate that critical care just complicates things. Evidently, it is high time for the randomised trial between the very best neurocritical care and NOB therapy (Naso-pharyngeal, Oxygen and a Blanket).

Join Martin and Mark as they discuss the pros and cons of neurocritical care in the management of severe TBI.

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Martin Smith

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Neurosurgeon and Pre-Hopsital care doctor, Professor of Brain Injury at Imperial College and holds the Gibson Chair of Pre-Hospital Care, RCSEd. His research interest is traumatic and hypoxia brain injury. He co-founded GoodSAM ( This is being adopted worldwide for cardiac arrest but has applications across all of pre-hospital care.

@markhwilson    @goodsamapp