The Endothelium, A Protagonist in the Pathophysiology of Critical Illness: Focus on Cellular Markers
Given the large societal burden from morbidity and mortality associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI), this disease entity has been the focus of extensive research over the past decades. Since primary injury in TBI is preventable whereas secondary injury is treatable, most of the research effort has been targeted at identifying factors that contribute to secondary injury and ways to minimize their deleterious effects. Whether post-traumatic vasospasm is one such factor is open for debate. Although radiological or anatomical vasospasm following head injury has been repeatedly demonstrated using various diagnostic techniques, its clinical significance is still under investigation. At the present time, no proven treatment regimen aimed specifically at decreasing the potential detrimental effects of post-traumatic vasospasm exists. Although calcium channel blockers have shown some promise in decreasing death or severe disability in those with traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage, whether their mechanism is by minimizing vasospasm is open to speculation. Therefore, currently, vigilant diagnostic surveillance, including serial head CT's and the prevention of secondary brain damage due to hypotension, hypoxia, and intracranial hypertension, may be more cost effective than attempting to minimize post-traumatic vasospasm.