Minutes can make the difference between life and death when patients with severe head injuries require surgery. Subdural, epidural, and intracerebral hematomas and cerebral contusions and gunshot wounds are the pathologic entities encountered most frequently during emergency surgery in patients with severe head injuries. Neurosurgical team members frequently use hyperventilation, mannitol and barbiturates, and sophisticated monitoring modalities to manage patients with severe head injuries during and after surgery. Although monitoring a patient's intracranial pressure (ICP) through a ventriculostomy catheter remains the most widely used gauge of cerebral metabolism, neurosurgical teams also are using fiber-optic ICP monitoring catheters, cerebral blood flow measurement probes, microdialysis catheters, jugular venous oxygen saturation catheters, and brain oxygen content measurement electrodes. Coordinated teamwork by perioperative nurses, neurosurgeons, anesthesia care providers, and emergency department staff members helps ensure the best possible outcomes for patients who require surgery for management of severe head injuries.
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