Evolution and Impact of the Brain Trauma Foundation Guidelines

Neurosurgery 89:1148–1156, 2021

The Brain Trauma Foundation (BTF) Guidelines for the Management of Severe Head Injury were the first clinical practice guidelines published by any surgical specialty. These guidelines have earned a reputation for rigor and have been widely adopted around the world. Implementation of these guidelines has been associated with a 50% reduction in mortality and reduced costs of patient care.

Over their 25-yr history the traumatic brain injury (TBI) guidelines have been expanded, refined, and made increasingly more rigorous in conjunction with new clinical evidence and evolving methodologic standards.

Here, we discuss the history and accomplishments of BTF guidelines for TBI as well as their limitations. We also discuss planned changes to future TBI guidelines intended to increase their utility and positive impact in an evolving medical landscape. Perhaps the greatest limitation of TBI guidelines now is the lack of high-quality clinical research as well as novel diagnostics and treatments with which to generate substantially new recommendations.

Guidelines for the Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: 2020 Update of the Decompressive Craniectomy Recommendations

Neurosurgery 87:427–434, 2020

When the fourth edition of the Brain Trauma Foundation’s Guidelines for theManagement of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury were finalized in late 2016, it was known that the results of the RESCUEicp (Trial of Decompressive Craniectomy for Traumatic Intracranial Hypertension) randomized controlled trial of decompressive craniectomy would be public after the guidelines were released.

The guideline authors decided to proceed with publication but to update the decompressive craniectomy recommendations later in the spirit of “living guidelines,” whereby topics are updated more frequently, and between new editions, when important new evidence is published.

The update to the decompressive craniectomy chapter presented here integrates the findings of the RESCUEicp study as well as the recently published 12-mo outcome data from the DECRA (Decompressive Craniectomy in Patients With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury) trial. Incorporation of these publications into the body of evidence led to the generation of 3 new level-IIA recommendations; a fourth previously presented level-IIA recommendation remains valid and has been restated. To increase the utility of the recommendations, we added a new section entitled Incorporating the Evidence into Practice.

This summary of expert opinion provides important context and addresses key issues for practitioners, which are intended to help the clinician utilize the available evidence and these recommendations. The full guideline canbe found at: https://braintrauma.org/guidelines/guidelines-for-themanagement- of-severe-tbi-4th-ed#/.