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Charles F. Contant, Alex B. Valadka, Shankar P. Gopinath, H. Julia Hannay and Claudia S. Robertson

Object. The factors involved in the development of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) after severe head injury were studied. The presence of ARDS complicates the treatment of patients with severe head injury, both because hypoxia causes additional injury to the brain and because therapies that are used to protect the lungs and improve oxygenation in patients with ARDS can reduce cerebral blood flow (CBF) and increase intracranial pressure (ICP). In a recent randomized trial of two head-injury management strategies (ICP-targeted and CBF-targeted), a fivefold increase in the incidence of ARDS was observed in the CBF-targeted group.

Methods. Injury severity, physiological data, and treatment data in 18 patients in whom ARDS had developed were compared with the remaining 171 patients in the randomized trial in whom it had not developed. Logistic regression analysis was used to study the interaction of the factors that were related to the development of ARDS.

In the final exact logistic regression model, several factors were found to be significantly associated with an increased risk of ARDS: administration of epinephrine (5.7-fold increased risk), administration of dopamine in a larger than median dose (10.8-fold increased risk), and a history of drug abuse (3.1-fold increased risk).

Conclusions. Although this clinical trial was not designed to study the association of management strategy and the occurrence of ARDS, the data strongly indicated that induced hypertension in this high-risk group of patients is associated with the development of symptomatic ARDS.

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Jack M. Fletcher, Kim Copeland, Jon A. Frederick, Susan E. Blaser, Larry A. Kramer, Hope Northrup, H. Julia Hannay, Michael E. Brandt, David J. Francis, Grace Villarreal, James M. Drake, John P. Laurent, Irene Townsend, Susan Inwood, Amy Boudousquie and Maureen Dennis

Object. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the level of a spinal lesion is associated with variations in anomalous brain development and neurobehavioral outcomes in children suffering from the meningomyelocele form of spina bifida and hydrocephalus (SBM-H).

Methods. Two hundred sixty-eight children with SBM-H were divided into upper (T-12 and above; 82 patients) and lower (L-1 and below; 186 patients) lesion-level groups. Magnetic resonance images were qualitatively coded by radiologists and quantitatively segmented for cerebrum and cerebellum volumes. Psychometric assessments of handedness, intelligence, academic skills, and adaptive behavior were compared between lesion-level groups and also used to determine the number of children who met research-based criteria for mental retardation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities.

The magnetic resonance images obtained in children with upper-level spinal lesions demonstrated more qualitative abnormalities in the midbrain and tectum, pons, and splenium, although not in the cerebellum, compared with images obtained in children with lower-level spinal lesions. Upper-level lesions were also associated with reductions in cerebrum and cerebellum volumes, lower scores on measures of intelligence, academic skills, and adaptive behavior, and with a higher frequency of individuals meeting the criteria for mental retardation. Hispanic children (who were also more economically disadvantaged) were more likely to have upper-level lesions and poorer neurobehavioral outcomes, but lesion-level effects were generally independent of ethnicity.

Conclusions. A higher level of spinal lesion in SBM-H is a marker for more severe anomalous brain development, which is in turn associated with poorer neurobehavioral outcomes in a wide variety of domains that determine levels of independent functioning for these children at home and school.