Lack of association between decompressive craniectomy and conversion to donor status


  • Dr. Brown is supported by an NINDS Career Development Award (K23 NS051202). The other authors declare no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures.

Corresponding author: Jeffrey J. Fletcher, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Center, 3552 Taubman Health Care Center, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5338, USA.
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Fletcher JJ, Bergman K, Watcharotone K, Jacobs TL, Brown DL. Lack of association between decompressive craniectomy and conversion to donor status.
Clin Transplant 2011: 25: 83–89. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Abstract:  There has been a recent resurgence in the use of decompressive craniectomy (DC) following severe brain injury. The aim of this study was to evaluate any association between DC and solid organ donation. We performed a retrospective, single-center, cohort study involving referrals to the local organ procurement organization, excluding those with anoxic brain injury. Of subjects referred, 64 (53%) were deemed eligible for donation and 29 (24%) converted to donor status. DC was performed with similar frequency in donors and non-donors (41% vs. 29%; p = 0.23). Patients with DC had similar odds of donation as those without DC (odds ratio 1.70, 95% CI 0.72–4.03), including after adjustment for age and Glasgow Coma Scale score (odds ratio 1.31, 95% CI 0.53–3.24). The most common reason eligible patients failed to convert to donor status was failure to pursue organ procurement because of the belief that the patient would not progress to neurological death or be a candidate for donation following cardiac death. Decompressive craniectomy was not uncommon among referrals to organ procurement organizations who ultimately become solid organ donors. Continued communication between the organ donation coordinators and the treating team has potential to decrease missed opportunities for organ donation.