Effects of sequential aeromedical evacuations following traumatic brain injury in swine

Francoise G. Arnaud, LT Ashraful Haque, MAJ Erica Barkei, MAJ Erin Morris, Jordan N. Hubbell, Natalie Coschigano, LCDR Carolyn Gosztyla, Col Debra L. Malone, Anke H. Scultetus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) represent a significant percentage of critical injuries in military conflicts. Following injury, wounded warfighters are often subjected to multiple aeromedical evacuations (AE) and associated hypobaria, yet the impact in TBI patients remains to be characterized. This study evaluated the impact of two consecutive simulated AEs in a fluid-percussion TBI model in swine to characterize these effects. Methods: Following instrumentation, anesthetized Yorkshire swine underwent a frontal TBI via fluid-percussion. A hypobaric chamber was then used to simulate AE at simulated cabin pressure equivalent to 8000ft (hypobaria) in a 6 h initial flight on day 3, followed by a 9 h flight on day 6, and were monitored for 14 days. Animals in the normobaria group were subjected to the same steps at sea level while Sham animals in both groups were instrumented but not injured. Parameters measured included physiologic response, intracranial pressure (ICP), hematology, chemistry, and serum cytokines. Histopathology of brain, lung, intestine, and kidney was performed, as well as fluorojade staining to evaluate neurodegeneration. All animals were divided into sub-groups by block randomization utilizing a 2-way ANOVA to analyze independent variables. Results: Survival was 100% in all groups. Physiologic parameters were largely similar across groups as well during both 6 and 9 h AE. Animals exposed to hypobaria in both the TBI and Sham groups had elevated heart rate (HR) during the 6 h flight (p<0.05). Three animals in the TBI hypo group demonstrated leukocytosis with histologic evidence of meningeal inflammatory response. Expression of serum cytokines was low across all groups. No significant neuronal degeneration was identified in areas away from the site of injury. Conclusion: Aeromedical evacuation in swine was not associated with significant differences in physiologic measures, cytokine expression or levels of neuronal degeneration. Histological examination revealed higher risk of meningeal inflammatory response and leucocytosis in swine exposed to hypobaria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3596-3604
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Aeromedical evacuation
  • Fluid-percussion injury
  • Hypobaria
  • Inflammation
  • TBI


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