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Paul M. Brennan, Gordon D. Murray and Graham M. Teasdale

OBJECTIVE

Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores and pupil responses are key indicators of the severity of traumatic brain damage. The aim of this study was to determine what information would be gained by combining these indicators into a single index and to explore the merits of different ways of achieving this.

METHODS

Information about early GCS scores, pupil responses, late outcomes on the Glasgow Outcome Scale, and mortality were obtained at the individual patient level by reviewing data from the CRASH (Corticosteroid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury; n = 9,045) study and the IMPACT (International Mission for Prognosis and Clinical Trials in TBI; n = 6855) database. These data were combined into a pooled data set for the main analysis.

Methods of combining the Glasgow Coma Scale and pupil response data varied in complexity from using a simple arithmetic score (GCS score [range 3–15] minus the number of nonreacting pupils [0, 1, or 2]), which we call the GCS-Pupils score (GCS-P; range 1–15), to treating each factor as a separate categorical variable. The content of information about patient outcome in each of these models was evaluated using Nagelkerke’s R2.

RESULTS

Separately, the GCS score and pupil response were each related to outcome. Adding information about the pupil response to the GCS score increased the information yield. The performance of the simple GCS-P was similar to the performance of more complex methods of evaluating traumatic brain damage. The relationship between decreases in the GCS-P and deteriorating outcome was seen across the complete range of possible scores. The additional 2 lowest points offered by the GCS-Pupils scale (GCS-P 1 and 2) extended the information about injury severity from a mortality rate of 51% and an unfavorable outcome rate of 70% at GCS score 3 to a mortality rate of 74% and an unfavorable outcome rate of 90% at GCS-P 1. The paradoxical finding that GCS score 4 was associated with a worse outcome than GCS score 3 was not seen when using the GCS-P.

CONCLUSIONS

A simple arithmetic combination of the GCS score and pupillary response, the GCS-P, extends the information provided about patient outcome to an extent comparable to that obtained using more complex methods. The greater range of injury severities that are identified and the smoothness of the stepwise pattern of outcomes across the range of scores may be useful in evaluating individual patients and identifying patient subgroups. The GCS-P may be a useful platform onto which information about other key prognostic features can be added in a simple format likely to be useful in clinical practice.

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Gordon D. Murray, Paul M. Brennan and Graham M. Teasdale

OBJECTIVE

Clinical features such as those included in the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, pupil reactivity, and patient age, as well as CT findings, have clear established relationships with patient outcomes due to neurotrauma. Nevertheless, predictions made from combining these features in probabilistic models have not found a role in clinical practice. In this study, the authors aimed to develop a method of displaying probabilities graphically that would be simple and easy to use, thus improving the usefulness of prognostic information in neurotrauma. This work builds on a companion paper describing the GCS-Pupils score (GCS-P) as a tool for assessing the clinical severity of neurotrauma.

METHODS

Information about early GCS score, pupil response, patient age, CT findings, late outcome according to the Glasgow Outcome Scale, and mortality were obtained at the individual adult patient level from the CRASH (Corticosteroid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury; n = 9045) and IMPACT (International Mission for Prognosis and Clinical Trials in TBI; n = 6855) databases. These data were combined into a pooled data set for the main analysis. Logistic regression was first used to model the combined association between the GCS-P and patient age and outcome, following which CT findings were added to the models. The proportion of variability in outcomes “explained” by each model was assessed using Nagelkerke’s R2.

RESULTS

The authors observed that patient age and GCS-P have an additive effect on outcome. The probability of mortality 6 months after neurotrauma is greater with increasing age, and for all age groups the probability of death is greater with decreasing GCS-P. Conversely, the probability of favorable recovery becomes lower with increasing age and lessens with decreasing GCS-P. The effect of combining the GCS-P with patient age was substantially more informative than the GCS-P, age, GCS score, or pupil reactivity alone. Two-dimensional charts were produced displaying outcome probabilities, as percentages, for 5-year increments in age between 15 and 85 years, and for GCS-Ps ranging from 1 to 15; it is readily seen that the movement toward combinations at the top right of the charts reflects a decreasing likelihood of mortality and an increasing likelihood of favorable outcome.

Analysis of CT findings showed that differences in outcome are very similar between patients with or without a hematoma, absent cisterns, or subarachnoid hemorrhage. Taken in combination, there is a gradation in risk that aligns with increasing numbers of any of these abnormalities. This information provides added value over age and GCS-P alone, supporting a simple extension of the earlier prognostic charts by stratifying the original charts in the following 3 CT groupings: none, only 1, and 2 or more CT abnormalities.

CONCLUSIONS

The important prognostic features in neurotrauma can be brought together to display graphically their combined effects on risks of death or on prospects for independent recovery. This approach can support decision making and improve communication of risk among health care professionals, patients, and their relatives. These charts will not replace clinical judgment, but they will reduce the risk of influences from biases.

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Davi J. Fontoura Solla, Manoel Jacobsen Teixeira and Wellingson Silva Paiva

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Paul M. Brennan, Angelos G. Kolias, Alexis J. Joannides, Jonathan Shapey, Hani J. Marcus, Barbara A. Gregson, Patrick J. Grover, Peter J. Hutchinson and Ian C. Coulter

OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) will become an increasingly common presentation in neurosurgical practice as the population ages, but quality evidence is still lacking to guide the optimal management for these patients. The British Neurosurgical Trainee Research Collaborative (BNTRC) was established by neurosurgical trainees in 2012 to improve research by combining the efforts of trainees in each of the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland's neurosurgical units (NSUs). The authors present the first study by the BNTRC that describes current management and outcomes for patients with CSDH throughout the UK and Ireland. This provides a resource both for current clinical practice and future clinical research on CSDH.

METHODS

Data on management and outcomes for patients with CSDH referred to UK and Ireland NSUs were collected prospectively over an 8-month period and audited against criteria predefined from the literature: NSU mortality < 5%, NSU morbidity < 10%, symptomatic recurrence within 60 days requiring repeat surgery < 20%, and unfavorable functional status (modified Rankin Scale score of 4–6) at NSU discharge < 30%.

RESULTS

Data from 1205 patients in 26 NSUs were collected. Bur-hole craniostomy was the most common procedure (89%), and symptomatic recurrence requiring repeat surgery within 60 days was observed in 9% of patients. Criteria on mortality (2%), rate of recurrence (9%), and unfavorable functional outcome (22%) were met, but morbidity was greater than expected (14%). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that failure to insert a drain intraoperatively independently predicted recurrence and unfavorable functional outcome (p = 0.011 and p = 0.048, respectively). Increasing patient age (p < 0.00001), postoperative bed rest (p = 0.019), and use of a single bur hole (p = 0.020) independently predicted unfavorable functional outcomes, but prescription of high-flow oxygen or preoperative use of antiplatelet medications did not.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the largest prospective CSDH study and helps establish national standards. It has confirmed in a real-world setting the effectiveness of placing a subdural drain. This study identified a number of modifiable prognostic factors but questions the necessity of some common aspects of CSDH management, such as enforced postoperative bed rest. Future studies should seek to establish how practitioners can optimize perioperative care of patients with CSDH to reduce morbidity as well as minimize CSDH recurrence. The BNTRC is unique worldwide, conducting multicenter trainee-led research and audits. This study demonstrates that collaborative research networks are powerful tools to interrogate clinical research questions.

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Adriaan R. E. Potgieser, J. Marc C. van Dijk and Jan D. M. Metzemaekers