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Head-injured patients who talk and deteriorate into coma

Analysis of 211 cases studied with computerized tomography

Ramiro D. Lobato, Juan J. Rivas, Pedro A. Gomez, Mario Castañeda, José M. Cañizal, Rosario Sarabia, Antonio Cabrera and Maria J. Muñoz

✓ Of 838 patients with severe head injuries admitted since the introduction of computerized tomography, 211 (25.1%) talked at some time between trauma and subsequent deterioration into coma. Of these 211 patients, 89 (42.2%) had brain contusion/hematoma, 46 (21.8%) an epidural hematoma, 35 (16.6%) a subdural hematoma, and 41 (19.4%) did not show focal mass lesions. Thus, four of every five patients who deteriorated into coma after suffering an apparently nonsevere head injury had a mass lesion potentially requiring surgery; the mass was intracerebral in 52.3% of the cases and extracerebral in 47.6%. Patients aged 20 years or less had a 39% chance of having a nonfocal mass lesion (diffuse brain damage), a 29% chance of having an epidural hematoma, and a 32% chance of having an intradural mass lesion; patients over 40 years had only a 3% chance of having a nonfocal mass lesion, an 18% chance of having an epidural hematoma, and a 79% chance of having a intradural mass lesion.

Sixty-eight (32.2%) patients died and 143 (67.8%) survived. The following were independent outcome predictors (in order of significance): Glasgow Coma Scale score following deterioration into coma, the highest intracranial pressure during the patient's course, the degree of midline shift, the type of intracranial lesion, and the age of the patient. In contrast, the mechanism of injury, the verbal Glasgow Coma Scale score during the lucid interval, and the length of time until deterioration or until operative intervention did not influence the final result.

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Jose F. Alén, Alfonso Lagares, Ramiro D. Lobato, Pedro A. Gómez, Juan J. Rivas and Ana Ramos

Object. Some authors have questioned the need to perform cerebral angiography in patients presenting with a benign clinical picture and a perimesencephalic pattern of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) on initial computerized tomography (CT) scans, because the low probability of finding an aneurysm does not justify exposing patients to the risks of angiography. It has been stated, however, that ruptured posterior circulation aneurysms may present with a perimesencephalic SAH pattern in up to 10% of cases. The aim of the present study was twofold: to define the frequency of the perimesencephalic SAH pattern in the setting of ruptured posterior fossa aneurysms, and to determine whether this clinical syndrome and pattern of bleeding could be reliably and definitely distinguished from that of aneurysmal SAH.

Methods. Twenty-eight patients with ruptured posterior circulation aneurysms and 44 with nonaneurysmal perimesencephalic SAH were selected from a series of 408 consecutive patients with spontaneous SAH admitted to the authors' institution. The admission unenhanced CT scans were evaluated by a neuroradiologist in a blinded fashion and classified as revealing a perimesencephalic SAH or a nonperimesencephalic pattern of bleeding.

Of the 28 patients with posterior circulation aneurysms, five whose grade was I according to the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies scale were classified as having a perimesencephalic SAH pattern on the initial CT scan. The data show that the likelihood of finding an aneurysm on angiographic studies obtained in a patient with a perimesencephalic SAH pattern is 8.9%. Conversely, ruptured aneurysms of the posterior circulation present with an early perimesencephalic SAH pattern in 16.6% of cases.

Conclusions. This study supports the impression that there is no completely sensitive and specific CT pattern for a nonaneurysmal SAH. In addition, the authors believe that there is no specific clinical syndrome that can differentiate patients who have a perimesencephalic SAH pattern caused by an aneurysm from those without aneurysms. Digital subtraction angiography continues to be the gold standard for the diagnosis of cerebral aneurysms and should be performed even in patients who have the characteristic perimesencephalic SAH pattern on admission CT scans.

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Gregorio R. Boto, Ramiro D. Lobato, Juan J. Rivas, Pedro A. Gomez, Adolfo de la Lama and Alfonso Lagares

Object. The authors analyzed the clinicoradiological presentation of traumatic basal ganglia hematomas (TBGHs) in severely head injured (SHI) patients.

Methods. The records of 37 patients (28 male and nine female patients with a mean age of 28 years) in whom computerized tomography (CT) scans revealed TBGHs 2 ml or more in volume were retrospectively reviewed. These cases represented 2.4% of the total series of 1526 SHI patients admitted to the authors' institution between 1979 and 1998. Thirty-five patients (94%) were involved in traffic accidents and only two exhibited a period of lucidity. Associated extracranial injuries were seen in 21 patients (57%) and coagulation disorders in 32 (86%). Skull fracture was present in 10 (43%) of the 23 patients in whom skull x-ray films were obtained. Computerized tomography findings indicated diffuse axonal injury in 27 patients (73%), intraventricular hemorrhage in 22 patients (59%), and subarachnoid hemorrhage in 16 patients (43%). In all but two patients, the TBGHs were visible on the initial CT scan, and in 28 cases (76%) these hematomas were contralateral to the side of impact. Hematoma enlargement over the first few posttraumatic days was noted in 65% of the patients in whom control CT scans had been obtained (22 of 34 patients). Four patients (11%) underwent surgery to remove their TBGHs. Final outcomes were poor: 22 patients (59%) died, two (5%) became vegetative, seven (19%) experienced severe disabilities, and only six patients (16%) made a favorable recovery.

Conclusions. Traumatic basal ganglia hematomas are dynamic lesions that tend to enlarge during the acute posttraumatic period. The overall prognosis in this series was poor. Patients in whom the volume of the hematoma was larger than 25 ml and those in whom hematoma volume enlargement or raised intracranial pressure occurred had the worst outcomes, perhaps indicating the need for a more aggressive surgical treatment.

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Ariel Kaen, Luis Jimenez-Roldan, Rafael Alday, Pedro A. Gomez, Alfonso Lagares, José Fernández Alén and Ramiro D. Lobato

Object

The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of posttraumatic hydrocephalus in severely head-injured patients who required decompressive craniectomy (DC). Additional objectives were to determine the relationship between hydrocephalus and several clinical and radiological features, with special attention to subdural hygromas as a sign of distortion of the CSF circulation.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective study of 73 patients with severe head injury who required DC. The patients were admitted to the authors' department between January 2000 and January 2006. Posttraumatic hydrocephalus was defined as: 1) modified frontal horn index greater than 33%, and 2) the presence of Gudeman CT criteria. Hygromas were diagnosed based on subdural fluid collection and classified according to location of the craniectomy.

Results

Hydrocephalus was diagnosed in 20 patients (27.4%). After uni- and multivariate analysis, the presence of interhemispheric hygromas (IHHs) was the only independent prognostic factor for development of posttraumatic hydrocephalus (p < 0.0001). More than 80% of patients with IHHs developed hydrocephalus within the first 50 days of undergoing DC. In all cases the presence of hygromas preceded the diagnosis of hydrocephalus. The IHH predicts the development of hydrocephalus after DC with 94% sensitivity and 96% specificity. The presence of an IHH showed an area under the receiver-operator characteristic of 0.951 (95% CI 0.87–1.00; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

Hydrocephalus was observed in 27.4% of the patients with severe traumatic brain injury who required DC. The presence of IHHs was a predictive radiological sign of hydrocephalus development within the first 6 months of DC in patients with severe head injury.

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Luis Jiménez-Roldán, Jose F. Alén, Pedro A. Gómez, Ramiro D. Lobato, Ana Ramos, Pablo M. Munarriz and Alfonso Lagares

Object

There were two main purposes to this study: first, to assess the feasibility and reliability of 2 quantitative methods to assess bleeding volume in patients who suffered spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), and second, to compare these methods to other qualitative and semiquantitative scales in terms of reliability and accuracy in predicting delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) and outcome.

Methods

A prospective series of 150 patients consecutively admitted to the Hospital 12 de Octubre over a 4-year period were included in the study. All of these patients had a diagnosis of SAH, and diagnostic CT was able to be performed in the first 24 hours after the onset of the symptoms. All CT scans were evaluated by 2 independent observers in a blinded fashion, using 2 different quantitative methods to estimate the aneurysmal bleeding volume: region of interest (ROI) volume and the Cavalieri method. The images were also graded using the Fisher scale, modified Fisher scale, Claasen scale, and the semiquantitative Hijdra scale. Weighted κ coefficients were calculated for assessing the interobserver reliability of qualitative scales and the Hijdra scores. For assessing the intermethod and interrater reliability of volumetric measurements, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were used as well as the methodology proposed by Bland and Altman. Finally, weighted κ coefficients were calculated for the different quartiles of the volumetric measurements to make comparison with qualitative scales easier. Patients surviving more than 48 hours were included in the analysis of DCI predisposing factors and analyzed using the chi-square or the Mann-Whitney U-tests. Logistic regression analysis was used for predicting DCI and outcome in the different quartiles of bleeding volume to obtain adjusted ORs. The diagnostic accuracy of each scale was obtained by calculating the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC).

Results

Qualitative scores showed a moderate interobserver reproducibility (weighted κ indexes were always < 0.65), whereas the semiquantitative and quantitative scores had a very strong interobserver reproducibility. Reliability was very high for all quantitative measures as expressed by the ICCs for intermethod and interobserver agreement. Poor outcome and DCI occurred in 49% and 31% of patients, respectively. Larger bleeding volumes were related to a poorer outcome and a higher risk of developing DCI, and the proportion of patients suffering DCI or a poor outcome increased with each quartile, maintaining this relationship after adjusting for the main clinical factors related to outcome. Quantitative analysis of total bleeding volume achieved the highest AUC, and had a greater discriminative ability than the qualitative scales for predicting the development of DCI and outcome.

Conclusions

The use of quantitative measures may reduce interobserver variability in comparison with categorical scales. These measures are feasible using dedicated software and show a better prognostic capability in relation to outcome and DCI than conventional categorical scales.

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Santiago Cepeda, Ana María Castaño-León, Pablo M. Munarriz, Igor Paredes, Irene Panero, Carla Eiriz, Pedro A. Gómez and Alfonso Lagares

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic intracerebral hemorrhage (TICH) represents approximately 13%–48% of the lesions after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and hemorrhagic progression (HP) occurs in 38%–63% of cases. In previous studies, decompressive craniectomy (DC) has been characterized as a risk factor in the HP of TICH; however, few studies have focused exclusively on this relationship. The object of the present study was to analyze the relationship between DC and the growth of TICH and to reveal any correlation with the size of the craniectomy, degree of cerebral parenchymal herniation (CPH), or volumetric expansion of the TICH.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed the records of 497 adult patients who had been consecutively admitted after suffering a severe or moderate closed TBI. An inclusion criterion was presentation with one or more TICHs on the initial or control CT. Demographic, clinical, radiological, and treatment variables were assessed for associations.

RESULTS

Two hundred three patients presenting with 401 individual TICHs met the selection criteria. TICH growth was observed in 281 cases (70.1%). Eighty-two cases (20.4%) underwent craniectomy without TICH evacuation. In the craniectomy group, HP was observed in 71 cases (86.6%); in the noncraniectomy group (319 cases), HP occurred in 210 cases (65.8%). The difference in the incidence of HP between the two groups was statistically significant (OR 3.41, p < 0.01). The mean area of the craniectomy was 104.94 ± 27.5 cm2, and the mean CPH distance through the craniectomy was 17.85 ± 11.1 mm. The mean increase in the TICH volume was greater in the groups with a craniectomy area > 115 cm2 and CPH > 25 mm (16.12 and 14.47 cm3, respectively, p = 0.01 and 0.02). After calculating the propensity score (PS), the authors followed three statistical methods—matching, stratification, and inverse probability treatment weighting (IPTW)—thereby obtaining an adequate balance of the covariates. A statistically significant relationship was found between HP and craniectomy (OR 2.77, p = 0.004). This correlation was confirmed with the three methodologies based on the PS with odds greater than 2.

CONCLUSIONS

DC is a risk factor for the growth of TICH, and there is also an association between the size of the DC and the magnitude of the volume increase in the TICH.

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Pedro A. Gómez, Javier de-la-Cruz, David Lora, Luis Jiménez-Roldán, Gregorio Rodríguez-Boto, Rosario Sarabia, Juan Sahuquillo, Roberto Lastra, Jesus Morera, Eglis Lazo, Jaime Dominguez, Javier Ibañez, Marta Brell, Adolfo de-la-Lama, Ramiro D. Lobato and Alfonso Lagares

Object

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a large health and economic burden. Because of the inability of previous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on TBI to demonstrate the expected benefit of reducing unfavorable outcomes, the IMPACT (International Mission on Prognosis and Analysis of Clinical Trials in TBI) and CRASH (Corticosteroid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury) studies provided new methods for performing prognostic studies of TBI. This study aimed to develop and externally validate a prognostic model for early death (within 48 hours). The secondary aim was to identify patients who were more likely to succumb to an early death to limit their inclusion in RCTs and to improve the efficiency of RCTs.

Methods

The derivation cohort was recruited at 1 center, Hospital 12 de Octubre, Madrid (1990–2003, 925 patients). The validation cohort was recruited in 2004–2006 from 7 study centers (374 patients). The eligible patients had suffered closed severe TBIs. The study outcome was early death (within 48 hours post-TBI). The predictors were selected using logistic regression modeling with bootstrapping techniques, and a penalized reduction was used. A risk score was developed based on the regression coefficients of the variables included in the final model.

Results

In the validation set, the final model showed a predictive ability of 50% (Nagelkerke R2), with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 89% and an acceptable calibration (goodness-of-fit test, p = 0.32). The final model included 7 variables, and it was used to develop a risk score with a range from 0 to 20 points. Age provided 0, 1, 2, or 3 points depending on the age group; motor score provided 0 points, 2 (untestable), or 3 (no response); pupillary reactivity, 0, 2 (1 pupil reacted), or 6 (no pupil reacted); shock, 0 (no) or 2 (yes); subarachnoid hemorrhage, 0 or 1 (severe deposit); cisternal status, 0 or 3 (compressed/absent); and epidural hematoma, 0 (yes) or 2 (no). Based on the risk of early death estimated with the model, 4 risk of early death groups were established: low risk, sum score 0–3 (< 1% predicted mortality); moderate risk, sum score 4–8 (predicted mortality between 1% and 10%); high risk, sum score 9–12 (probability of early death between 10% and 50%); and very high risk, sum score 13–20 (early mortality probability > 50%). This score could be used for selecting patients for clinical studies. For example, if patients with very high risk scores were excluded from our study sample, the patients included (eligibility score < 13) would represent 80% of the original sample and only 23% of the patients who died early.

Conclusions

The combination of Glasgow Coma Scale score, CT scanning results, and secondary insult data into a prognostic score improved the prediction of early death and the classification of TBI patients.