An experimental study indicates that controlled application of vacuum pressure may serve as a promising approach to limiting tissue damage post-traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study appears in the August issue of Neurosurgery and was authored by Louis C. Argenta, MD, Michael Morykwas, PhD, and co-investigators of Wake Forest University of Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC.

 A news release from Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins reports that during the study, which was reportedly funded by a major grant from the US Army, researchers tested the mechanical tissue resuscitation approach by inducing localized TBI in swine, then applying negative pressure over the injured area of the brain. The study then investigated the impact of different levels of pressure, 50 or 100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), different application times, 3 or 5 days, and different delay times, up to 6 hours.

According to the results, key benefits were demonstrated following the application of vacuum pressure post-injury. Applying 100 mm Hg of pressure for 3 days yielded a significantly smaller area of brain contusion and reduced bleeding, when compared to no pressure or 50 mm Hg of pressure. Brain MRI scans exhibited a more normal appearance in vacuum-treated animals, which was later confirmed by examination of brain tissues, researchers say.

The study also suggests all animals survived after 5 days of vacuum application, whereas half of the animals died when treatment was stopped after 3 days. The response to vacuum pressure was about the same when treatment was delayed for 3 hours, compared to no delay, the results say. The procedure also appeared safe, without the development of seizures or brain deformation.

The release notes that the new technique stems from the successful use of negative pressure in order to promote healing in other types of wounds. Prior research conducted by Argenta and Morykwas also indicated benefits of controlled vacuum application to localized areas of TBI in rates.

The researchers conclude in the release “The ability of mechanical tissue resuscitation to achieve meaningful reduction in loss of brain tissue and hemorrhage injury warrants further investigation.”

Argent, Morykwas, and coauthors add that since the effects of vacuum treatment are “purely mechanical,” it might be useful in combination with other treatments.

Photo Credit: Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

Source(s): Science Daily, Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins