Health

Lives of Brain Injured Patients Saved Thanks to Ancient Egyptian Operation

Brain Injured Patients’ Lives Are Saved With An Ancient Egyptian Style Operation Where A Hole Is Drilled Into Their Skull To Reduce Swelling

  • Pharaoh-era operation could save thousands of brain-damaged people every year
  • It involves making a hole in the skull to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain – in a procedure similar to that used by the ancient Egyptians as a religious ritual.
  • A study has found that patients who undergo the surgery – decompressive craniectomy – are one-fifth more likely to survive than those who receive standard medication

An operation dating back to the time of the pharaohs could save thousands of people suffering from brain damage each year.

It involves making a hole in the skull to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain – in a procedure similar to that used by the ancient Egyptians as a religious ritual.

A new study has found that patients who undergo surgery, called decompressive craniectomy, are one-fifth more likely to survive than those who receive standard medication.

Professor Peter Hutchinson, consultant neurosurgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, who led the study, said: “Without a doubt the operation can save lives.”

An operation dating back to the time of the pharaohs could save thousands of people suffering from brain damage each year.  It involves making a hole in the skull to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain - in a procedure similar to that used by the ancient Egyptians as a religious ritual.

An operation dating back to the time of the pharaohs could save thousands of people suffering from brain damage each year. It involves making a hole in the skull to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain – in a procedure similar to that used by the ancient Egyptians as a religious ritual.

Some 160,000 Britons are hospitalized each year for brain damage, often caused by road accidents and falls.

When the brain is injured, fluid can build up inside the skull, causing pressure that can restrict blood supply. Eventually, brain cells begin to die, causing memory loss, paralysis, and even death.

Patients are usually treated with medication, but if these don’t work, doctors may opt for a procedure called a ventriculostomy, in which a tube is inserted through a hole in the skull to drain excess fluid.

Some 160,000 Britons are admitted to hospital each year for brain damage, often caused by road accidents and falls

Some 160,000 Britons are admitted to hospital each year for brain damage, often caused by road accidents and falls

During a craniectomy, a 5-inch larger hole is made in the back of the skull and part of the membrane surrounding the brain is removed, which instantly reduces pressure.

The skin is then stitched over the hole. Once the wound has healed, the hole in the skull is covered with a titanium plate.

Previous research has suggested that decompressive craniectomy carries a high risk of disabling patients, but in a new study of 408 patients, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, patients who underwent craniectomy were 21% more likely to survive for two years than those treated with medication and were more likely to recover well.

Russell Ramplin, 42, from Ipswich, underwent a craniectomy in 2020 after a motorbike accident. He has since made an almost full recovery and earlier this year had the missing part of his skull replaced with a titanium plate at Addenbrooke.

He said, “I’m on my feet again. I have a job, a place to live and I have no pain.

‘It saved my life. I’m sure it could save others.

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