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Brain injuries: Partial skull removal might provide some benefits

To take away the skull or to not take away the skull is a question that some doctors have when they are coming up with a care plan for a patient who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The risks of a partial craniectomy are considerable, but a new study shows that those risks might be worth the benefits.

The study was aimed at determining if a decompressive craniectomy could save lives and what sort of quality of life the brain injury patients could have after the surgery. The results of the study were pretty amazing.

More than 400 patients were randomly assigned either the surgery or no surgery as part of their treatment for a severe TBI. The death rate of the groups after six months was astounding. The group that had the surgery had a death rate of 27 percent. While that might seem astronomical, it really isn't when you compare it to the death rate of patients who didn't have the surgery. The death rate for that group was a whopping 49 percent.

On the flip side of that good news is that the study seemed to indicate that patients who have the surgery are more likely to remain in a vegetative state than those who don't have it. Only 2 percent of patients without the surgery were in a vegetative state six months after the injury, and 8.5 percent of patients who had the surgery remained in a vegetative state at that time.

It is difficult for a doctor to base a decision only on a study like this. It is crucial that doctors take all of the patient's case into account before deciding on a treatment. For some patients, seeking compensation might be the springboard they need to afford the medical care that can help them.

Source: Fox News, "Partial skull removal can save lives after injury," Sara G. Miller, Sep. 08, 2016

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