Decompressive Craniectomy Reduces White Matter Injury after Controlled Cortical Impact in Mice

Stuart H. Friess, Jodi B. Lapidus, David L. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Abstract Reduction and avoidance of increases in intracranial pressure (ICP) after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) continue to be the mainstays of treatment. Traumatic axonal injury is a major contributor to morbidity after TBI, but it remains unclear whether elevations in ICP influence axonal injury. Here we tested the hypothesis that reduction in elevations in ICP after experimental TBI would result in decreased axonal injury and white matter atrophy in mice. Six-week-old male mice (C57BL/6J) underwent either moderate controlled cortical impact (CCI) (n=48) or Sham surgery (Sham, n=12). Immediately after CCI, injured animals were randomized to a loose fitting plastic cap (Open) or replacement of the previously removed bone flap (Closed). Elevated ICP was observed in Closed animals compared with Open and Sham at 15 min (21.4±4.2 vs. 12.3±2.9 and 8.8±1.8 mm Hg, p<0.0001) and 1 day (17.8±3.7 vs. 10.6±2.0 and 8.9±1.9 mm Hg, p<0.0001) after injury. Beta amyloid precursor protein staining in the corpus callosum and ipsilateral external capsule revealed reduced axonal swellings and bulbs in Open compared with Closed animals (32% decrease, p<0.01 and 40% decrease, p<0.001 at 1 and 7 days post-injury, respectively). Open animals were also found to have decreased neurofilament-200 stained axonal swellings at 7 days post-injury compared with Open animals (32% decrease, p<0.001). At 4 weeks post-injury, Open animals had an 18% reduction in white matter volume compared with 34% in Closed animals (p<0.01). Thus, our results indicate that CCI with decompressive craniectomy was associated with reductions in ICP and reduced pericontusional axonal injury and white matter atrophy. If similar in humans, therapeutic interventions that ameliorate intracranial hypertension may positively influence white matter injury severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-800
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Axonal injury
  • Controlled cortical impact
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • White matter


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