Neurotraumatology deals with injuries of the head or spine that occur due to accidents. Injuries may affect neural (brain, spinal cord) as well as bony structures (skull, spine). Most of our patients are young people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) that were involved in traffic accidents. But we also treat an increasing number of elderly patients with head injuries due to bagatelle traumata. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for the majority of all our trauma patients. While approximately one third of all patients with a so-called severe TBI die, about 10% survive with severe disabilities.
As a university hospital located within the Alps with numerous opportunities for sports and leisure activities within our catchment area, we serve as the primary referral center for neurotrauma patients in western Austria.
All patients with a diagnosed or suspected neurotrauma will be admitted to the hospital via the trauma room, where a team of various specialists (anesthesiologists/intensivists, neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, neurologists, pediatricians, ophthalmologists, etc.) will be already awaiting the patient. Initial measures will be taken to stabilize the patient and further assess their medical condition. This includes a trauma CT scan of the whole body and additional specified examinations depending on the injuries the patient has.
Patients lying on our neurosurgical intensive care unit with a severe head injury are unconscious and artificially ventilated because of their head injury. That means, they are not easily accessible for assessments of their neurological condition. Neuromonitoring is a way of gaining information about the brain’s condition by measuring certain parameters continuously while the patients is sedated. These measurements are done via different kinds of very thin probes that are placed inside the brain:
The transcranial Doppler (TCD) sonography is a non-invasive examination that is being performed routinely by the neurosurgeons of our department. The TCD is an ultrasound examination of the head, where the blood vessels inside the head can be easily assessed. It gives us information about the blood supply of the brain and helps to detect vessel contractions (“vasospasm”) that may cause stroke.