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Jennifer T. Cone, Elizabeth R. Benjamin, Daniel B. Alfson and Demetrios Demetriades


Obesity has been widely reported to confer significant morbidity and mortality in both medical and surgical patients. However, contemporary data indicate that obesity may confer protection after both critical illness and certain types of major surgery. The authors hypothesized that this “obesity paradox” may apply to patients with isolated severe blunt traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).


The Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) database was queried for patients with isolated severe blunt TBI (head Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] score 3–5, all other body areas AIS < 3). Patient data were divided based on WHO classification levels for BMI: underweight (< 18.5 kg/m2), normal weight (18.5–24.9 kg/m2), overweight (25.0–29.9 kg/m2), obesity class 1 (30.0–34.9 kg/m2), obesity class 2 (35.0–39.9 kg/m2), and obesity class 3 (≥ 40.0 kg/m2). The role of BMI in patient outcomes was assessed using regression models.


In total, 103,280 patients were identified with isolated severe blunt TBI. Data were excluded for patients aged < 20 or > 89 years or with BMI < 10 or > 55 kg/m2 and for patients who were transferred from another treatment center or who showed no signs of life upon presentation, leaving data from 38,446 patients for analysis. Obesity was not found to confer a survival advantage on univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, underweight patients as well as obesity class 1 and 3 patients had a higher rate of mortality (OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.48–2.34; OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.01–1.37; and OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.03–1.93, respectively). Increased obesity class was associated with an increased risk of respiratory complications (obesity class 1: OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.03–1.37; obesity class 2: OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.05–1.62; obesity class 3: OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.18–2.05) and thromboembolic complications (overweight: OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.16–1.76; obesity class 1: OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.11–1.88; obesity class 2: OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.05–2.29) despite a decreased risk of overall complications (obesity class 2: OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.73–0.92; obesity class 3: OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.72–0.97). Underweight patients had a significantly increased risk of overall complications (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.24–1.57).


Although there was an obesity-associated decrease in overall complications, the study data did not demonstrate a paradoxical protective effect of obesity on mortality after isolated severe blunt TBI. Obese patients with isolated severe blunt TBI are at increased risk of respiratory and venous thromboembolic complications. However, underweight patients appear to be at highest risk after severe blunt TBI, with significantly increased risks of morbidity and mortality.

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Paul Gigante, Michael M. McDowell, Samuel S. Bruce, Genevieve Chirelstein, Claudia A. Chiriboga, Joseph Dutkowsky, Elizabeth Fontana, Joshua Hyman, Heakyung Kim, Dean Morgan, Toni S. Pearson, Benjamin D. Roye, David P. Roye Jr., Patricia Ryan, Michael Vitale and Richard C. E. Anderson


Randomized clinical trials have established that lumbar selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) reduces lower-extremity tone and improves functional outcome in children with spastic cerebral palsy. Significant data exist to support a secondary effect on upper-extremity function in patients with upper-extremity spasticity. The effects of SDR on upper-extremity tone, however, are not well characterized. In this report, the authors sought to assess changes in upper-extremity tone in individual muscle groups after SDR and tried to determine if these changes could be predicted preoperatively.


The authors retrospectively reviewed 42 children who underwent SDR at Columbia University Medical Center/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian between 2005 and 2011. Twenty-five had upper-extremity spasticity. All underwent pre- and postoperative examination for measuring tone (Modified Ashworth Scale) and assessing functional outcome. Follow-up examinations with therapists were performed at least once at a minimum of 2 months postoperatively (mean 15 months).


In the upper extremities, 23 (92%) of 25 patients had improvements of at least 1 Ashworth point in 2 or more independent motor groups on the Modified Ashworth Scale, and 12 (71%) of 17 families surveyed reported increases in motor control or spontaneous movement. The mean Modified Ashworth Scale scores for all upper-extremity muscle groups demonstrated an improvement from 1.34 to 1.22 (p < 0.001). Patients with a mean preoperative upper-extremity tone of 1.25–1.75 were most likely to benefit from reduction in tone (p = 0.0019). Proximal and pronator muscle groups were most likely to demonstrate reduced tone.


In addition to improvements in lower-extremity tone and function, SDR has demonstrable effects on upper extremities. Greater than 90% of our patients with elevated upper-extremity tone demonstrated reduction in tone in at least 2 muscle groups postoperatively. Patients with a mean Modified Ashworth Scale upper-extremity score of 1.25–1.75 may encounter the greatest reduction in upper-extremity tone.