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Nathan J. Winans, Justine J. Liang, Bradley Ashcroft, Stephen Doyle, Adam Fry, Susan M. Fiore, Sima Mofakham and Charles B. Mikell

OBJECTIVE

Severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) carries significant morbidity and mortality. It remains difficult to counsel families on functional prognosis and plan research initiatives aimed at treating traumatic coma. In order to better address these problems, the authors set out to develop statistical models using retrospective data to identify admission characteristics that correlate with time until the return of consciousness, defined as the time to follow commands (TFC). These results were then used to create a TFC score, allowing for rapid identification of patients with predicted prolonged TFC.

METHODS

Data were reviewed and collected from medical records of sTBI patients with Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) motor subscores ≤ 5 who were admitted to Stony Brook University Hospital from January 2011 to July 2018. Data were used to calculate descriptive statistics and build binary logistic regression models to identify admission characteristics that correlated with in-hospital mortality and in-hospital command-following. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify admission characteristics that correlated with the length of TFC. A TFC score was developed using the significant variables identified in the Cox regression model.

RESULTS

There were 402 adult patients who met the inclusion criteria for this study. The average age was 50.5 years, and 122 (30.3%) patients were women. In-hospital mortality was associated with older age, higher Injury Severity Score (ISS), higher Rotterdam score (head CT grading system), and the presence of bilateral fixed and dilated pupils (p < 0.01). In-hospital command-following was anticorrelated with age, ISS, Rotterdam score, and the presence of a single fixed and dilated pupil (p < 0.05). TFC was anticorrelated with age, ISS, Rotterdam score, and the presence of a single fixed and dilated pupil. Additionally, patients who sustained injuries from falls from standing height had a shorter average TFC. The 3 significant variables from the Cox regression model that explained the most variance were used to create a 4-point TFC score. The most significant of these characteristics were Rotterdam head CT scores, high impact traumas, and the presence of a single fixed and dilated pupil. Importantly, the presence of a single fixed and dilated pupil was correlated with longer TFC but no increase in likelihood of in-hospital mortality.

CONCLUSIONS

The creation of the 4-point TFC score will allow clinicians to quickly identify patients with predicted prolonged TFC and estimate the likelihood of command-following at different times after injury. Discussions with family members should take into account the likelihood that patients will return to consciousness and survive after TBI.

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Sebastian Rubino, Rifat A. Zaman, Caleb R. Sturge, Jessica G. Fried, Atman Desai, Nathan E. Simmons and S. Scott Lollis

Object

Many neurosurgeons obtain repeat head CT at the first clinic follow-up visit for nonoperative cerebral contusion and traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH). The authors undertook a single-center, retrospective study to determine whether outpatient CT altered clinical decision-making.

Methods

The authors evaluated 173 consecutive adult patients admitted to their institution from April 2006 to August 2012 with an admission diagnosis of cerebral contusion or tSAH and at least 1 clinic follow-up visit with CT. Patients with epidural, subdural, aneurysmal subarachnoid, or intraventricular hemorrhage, and those who underwent craniotomy, were excluded. Patient charts were reviewed for new CT findings, new patient symptoms, and changes in treatment plan. Patients were stratified by neurological symptoms into 3 groups: 1) asymptomatic; 2) mild, nonspecific symptoms; and 3) significant symptoms. Mild, nonspecific symptoms included minor headaches, vertigo, fatigue, and mild difficulties with concentration, short-term memory, or sleep; significant symptoms included moderate to severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, focal neurological complaints, impaired consciousness, or new cognitive impairment evident on routine clinical examination.

Results

One hundred seventy-three patients met inclusion criteria, with initial clinic follow-up obtained within approximately 6 weeks. Of the 173 patients, 104 (60.1%) were asymptomatic, 68 patients (39.3%) had mild, nonspecific neurological symptoms, and 1 patient (1.0%) had significant neurological symptoms. Of the asymptomatic patients, 3 patients (2.9%) had new CT findings and 1 of these patients (1.0%) underwent a change in treatment plan because of these findings. This change involved an additional clinic appointment and CT to monitor a 12-mm chronic subdural hematoma that ultimately resolved without treatment. Of the patients with mild, nonspecific neurological symptoms, 6 patients (8.8%) had new CT findings and 3 of these patients (4.4%) underwent a change in treatment plan because of these findings; none of these patients required surgical intervention. The single patient with significant neurological symptoms did not have any new CT findings.

Conclusions

Repeat outpatient CT of asymptomatic patients after nonoperative cerebral contusion and tSAH is very unlikely to demonstrate significant new pathology. Given the cost and radiation exposure associated with CT, imaging should be reserved for patients with significant symptoms or focal findings on neurological examination.

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010