✓ Serial studies of visual, auditory, and somatosensory evoked potentials (EP's) obtained from 139 severely head-injured patients up to 1 year after trauma were analyzed to ascertain whether or not EP's can be used to monitor neurological recovery or deterioration following secondary insults. The EP data were analyzed using a grading system of abnormality developed previously, and patients were grouped by the most severe EP abnormality found in any modality during an early study (mean Day 3). The findings showed differential recovery trends depending on the severity of EP abnormality obtained on the initial study and presence of secondary insult. If EP's were normal early after injury, they remained so for up to 1 year, and these patients did well clinically. The EP's that were absent did not improve, and the patients had poor outcomes. Secondary insults did not affect the EP's or the outcomes of patients in these two groups. When EP's that were initially mildly abnormal became normal or remained no worse than mildly abnormal, patients had favorable outcomes in spite of complications. In contrast, deterioration of EP's with secondary insult indicated poor patient outcome. Severe EP abnormalities which improved over time led to favorable outcomes. However, persistence or deterioration of severe abnormalities indicated a poor outcome. Changes in EP's over time were better indicators of outcome than the presence or absence of complications. The results suggest that EP's may be used to assess neural recovery and the consequences of secondary insults to the brain. Four case reports are included to exemplify results.
Pauline G. Newlon, Richard P. Greenberg, Marti S. Hyatt, Gregory G. Enas and Donald P. Becker
Richard P. Greenberg, Pauline G. Newlon, Marti S. Hyatt, Raj K. Narayan and Donald P. Becker
✓ Results of multimodality evoked potential (MEP) studies recorded from 100 comatose patients soon after severe head injury were analyzed prospectively, using a previously established grading system, to assess the prognostic value of MEP's with respect to patient outcome, to evaluate the effect of clinically relevant sequelae of head injury on the prediction of outcome by MEP's, and to describe time to clinical recovery as a function of initial MEP grade. Graded MEP's, when recorded in the first few days after head injury, could predict patient outcome at 1 year with approximately 80% accuracy. Exclusion from the analysis of patients who died from causes unrelated to the brain and those with severe systemic complications that occurred after the evoked potentials were recorded improved the accuracy of outcome prediction to nearly 100%. The presence of a mass lesion requiring surgery reduces the probability of good to moderate outcome for a given MEP grade group by approximately 25% to 40% from that seen in patients without mass lesions. The clinical outcome predicted shortly after head injury by MEP grades may not be realized for many months. Patients with mild MEP abnormality (Grade I or II) generally reach their outcome by 3 to 6 months, whereas those with more severe deficits (Grade III) may not show improvement for at least 1 year.