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.
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.
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.
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.