The management strategies and outcomes in pediatric patients with elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are examined in this study.
This study was a retrospective review of a prospectively acquired pediatric trauma database. More than 750 pediatric patients with brain injury were seen over a 10-year period. Records were retrospectively reviewed to determine interventions for correcting ICP, and surviving patients were contacted prospectively to determine functional status and quality of life. Only patients with 2 years of follow-up were included in the study.
Ninety-six pediatric patients (age range 3–18 years) were identified with a Glasgow Coma Scale score < 8 and elevated ICP > 20 mm Hg on presentation. The mean injury severity score was 65 (range 30–100). All patients were treated using a standardized head injury protocol. The mean time course until peak ICP was 69 hours postinjury (range 2–196 hours). Intracranial pressure control was achieved in 82 patients (85%). Methods employed to achieve ICP control included maximal medical therapy (sedation, hyperosmolar therapy, and paralysis) in 34 patients (35%), ventriculostomy in 23 patients (24%), and surgery in 39 patients (41%). Fourteen patients (15%) had refractory ICP despite all interventions, and all of these patients died. Seventy-two patients (75%) were discharged from the hospital, whereas 24 (25%) died during hospitalization. Univariate and multivariate analysis revealed that the presence of vascular injury, refractory ICP, and cisternal effacement at presentation had the highest correlation with subsequent death (p < 0.05). Mean follow-up was 53 months (range 11–126 months). Three patients died during the follow-up period (2 due to infections and 1 committed suicide). The mean 2-year Glasgow Outcome Scale score was 4 (median 4, range 1–5). The mean patient competency rating at follow-up was 4.13 out of 5 (median 4.5, range 1–4.8). Univariate analysis revealed that the extent of intracranial and systemic injuries had the highest correlation with long-term quality of life (p < 0.05).
Controlling elevated ICP is an important factor in patient survival following severe pediatric TBI. The modality used for ICP control appears to be less important. Long-term follow-up is essential to determine neurocognitive sequelae associated with TBI.