Talk and die revisited: Bifrontal contusions and late deterioration

Eric Cecala Peterson, Randall M. Chesnut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Severe bifrontal contusions in an awake traumatic brain injury (TBI) patient is a challenging clinical picture, as they are prone to late deterioration. We evaluated our series of patients with severe bifrontal contusions, characterizing their clinical course and suggestions for management. Methods: We examined a prospectively collected database of TBIs for patients with severe bifrontal contusions, defined as >30 cm. Only patients with Glasgow Coma Scale score of 10 or greater were included. Patients were divided into two groups: deterioration and nondeterioration. Clinical variables were compared between the two groups. Results: Thirteen patients met the above criteria. The mean Glasgow Coma Scale score was 13, and all were low mechanism injuries. All patients were managed with intensive care unit observation and hyperosmolar therapy to maintain serum osmolarity >300. Overall, 7 of 13 (54%) suffered an acute clinical deterioration a mean of 4.5 days postinjury. Of those managed with immediate surgical decompression, all had good outcomes and returned to work. There was no difference in contusion or edema volumes between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: Awake patients with bifrontal contusions represent a unique cohort of TBI patients who are prone to rapid deterioration late in their clinical course. They have extensive frontal edema and mass effect, yet we were unable to find a correlation between edema volumes and incidence of deterioration. Based on this series and our experience in other TBI patients, we no longer utilize prophylactic infusions of hypertonic saline in the setting of TBI. We recommend managing these patients with intensive care unit admission and early intracranial pressure monitoring. If they do deteriorate despite these measures, rapid bifrontal decompression can lead to good functional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1588-1592
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Bifrontal Contusions
  • Late Deterioration
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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