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Two-year mortality and functional outcomes in combat-related penetrating brain injury: battlefield through rehabilitation

M. Benjamin Larkin, Erin K. M. Graves, Jason H. Boulter, Nicholas S. Szuflita, R. Michael Meyer, Michael E. Porambo, John J. Delaney, and Randy S. Bell


There are limited data concerning the long-term functional outcomes of patients with penetrating brain injury. Reports from civilian cohorts are small because of the high reported mortality rates (as high as 90%). Data from military populations suggest a better prognosis for penetrating brain injury, but previous reports are hampered by analyses that exclude the point of injury. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of the long-term functional outcomes of those who sustain a combat-related penetrating brain injury (from the initial point of injury to 24 months afterward).


This study is a retrospective review of cases of penetrating brain injury in patients who presented to the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from January 2010 to March 2013. The primary outcome of interest was Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score at 6, 12, and 24 months from date of injury.


A total of 908 cases required neurosurgical consultation during the study period, and 80 of these cases involved US service members with penetrating brain injury. The mean admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score was 8.5 (SD 5.56), and the mean admission Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 26.6 (SD 10.2). The GOS score for the cohort trended toward improvement at each time point (3.6 at 6 months, 3.96 at 24 months, p > 0.05). In subgroup analysis, admission GCS score ≤ 5, gunshot wound as the injury mechanism, admission ISS ≥ 26, and brain herniation on admission CT head were all associated with worse GOS scores at all time points. Excluding those who died, functional improvement occurred regardless of admission GCS score (p < 0.05). The overall mortality rate for the cohort was 21%.


Good functional outcomes were achieved in this population of severe penetrating brain injury in those who survived their initial resuscitation. The mortality rate was lower than observed in civilian cohorts.

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Middle meningeal artery embolization in the management of chronic subdural hematoma in medically complex pediatric neurosurgical patients: technical note

Anne M. Coyle, Erin K. M. Graves, Shih-Shan Lang, Benjamin C. Kennedy, Tracy M. Flanders, Alexander M. Tucker, Phillip B. Storm, Anne Marie Cahill, Bryan A. Pukenas, and Peter J. Madsen

Middle meningeal artery (MMA) embolization has gained acceptance as a treatment for chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH) in adult patients but has not been well described in pediatric patients. Standard cSDH treatment has historically consisted of burr hole drainage with or without subdural drain placement. However, due to the high rate of recurrence and frequency of comorbidities within this population, as both pediatric and adult patients with cSDH frequently have concurrent cardiac disease and a need for anticoagulant therapies, MMA embolization has increasingly demonstrated its value as both an adjunctive and primary treatment. In this report, the authors present 3 cases of successful MMA embolization in medically complex children at a single institution. MMA embolization was used as a primary treatment modality and as an adjunctive therapy in the acute setting following surgical hematoma evacuation. Two patients were receiving anticoagulation treatment requiring reversal. Technical considerations specific to the pediatric population as well as those common to both the pediatric and adult populations are addressed. Further work is needed to define the optimal indications and outcomes for MMA embolization in children with cSDH.