Predictors of outcome in civilians with gunshot wounds to the head upon presentation

Clinical article

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas;
  • | 2 Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas;
  • | 3 Seton Brain and Spine Institute Neurosurgery, Austin; and
  • | 4 Department of Neurosurgery, The MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
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Object

Prediction of outcome from initial presentation after a gunshot wound to the head (GSWH) is essential to further clinical decision making. The authors' goals are to report the survival and functional outcomes of these patients, to identify prognostic factors, and to propose a scoring system that can predict their outcome.

Methods

The records of 199 patients admitted with a GSWH with dural penetration between 1990 and 2008 were retrospectively reviewed. The inclusion criterion was a CT scan available for review. Patients declared brain dead on presentation were excluded, which yielded a series of 119 patients. Statistical analysis was performed using a logistic regression model.

Results

Fifty-eight (49%) of the 119 patients died. Twenty-three patients (19%) had a favorable outcome defined as a 6-month Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score of moderate disability or good recovery, 35 (29%) had a poor outcome (GOS of persistent vegetative state or severe disability), and 3 (3%) were lost to follow-up. Significant prognostic factors for mortality were age older than 35 years, nonreactive pupils, bullet trajectory of bihemispheric (excluding bifrontal), and posterior fossa involvement compared with unihemispheric and bifrontal. Factors that were moderately associated with higher mortality included intracranial pressure (ICP) above 20 mm Hg and Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score at presentation of 3 or 4. Upon multivariate analysis, the significant factors for mortality were bullet trajectory and pupillary response. Variables found to be significant for good functional outcome were admission GCS score greater than or equal to 5, pupillary reactivity, and bullet trajectory of unihemispheric or bifrontal. Factors moderately associated with good outcome included age of 35 years or younger, initial ICP 20 mm Hg or lower, and lack of transventricular trajectory. In the multivariate analysis, significant factors for good functional outcome were bullet trajectory and pupillary response, with age moderately associated with improved functional outcomes. The authors also propose a scoring system to estimate survival and functional outcome.

Conclusions

Age, pupils, GCS score, and bullet trajectory on CT scan can be used to determine likelihood of survival and good functional outcome. The authors advocate assessing patients based on these parameters rather than pronouncing a poor prognosis and withholding aggressive resuscitation based upon low GCS score alone.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

AIS = Abbreviated Injury Scale; GCS = Glasgow Coma Scale; GOS = Glasgow Outcome Scale; GSWH = gunshot wound to the head; ICP = intracranial pressure.

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