Utility of neurosurgical consultation for mild traumatic brain injury

Am Surg. 2006 Dec;72(12):1162-5; discussion1166-7.


Trauma patients presenting with a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 14-15 are considered to have mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) with overall good neurologic outcomes. Current practice consists of initial stabilization, followed by a head CT, and neurosurgical consultation. Aside from serial neurologic examinations, patients with a GCS of 15 rarely require neurosurgical intervention. In this study, we examined the added value of neurosurgical consultation in the care of patients after TBI with a GCS of 15. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients presenting after blunt trauma with an abnormal head CT and GCS of 15 between January 2004 and January 2005. Patients with a normal head CT and <48 hours hospital stay were excluded. Data included demographics, mechanisms of injury, Injury Severity Score, the radiologists' dictated interpretations of the head CT, and neurosurgical interventions. Fifty-six patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean age was 41+/-2.3 years, and the mean Injury Severity Scores was 10.2 +/-0.6. Mechanisms of injury included 64 per cent motor vehicle crash, 16 per cent motorcycle crash, 13 per cent fall, and 7 per cent all-terrain vehicle crash. The initial CT scans showed 43 per cent parenchymal contusions, 38 per cent subarachnoid hemorrhage, 14 per cent subdural hematomas, and 5 per cent epidural hematomas. All patients received a routine follow-up head CT, and 16 per cent showed changes (five improved and four were worse compared with initial CT scans). None of these patients received a neurosurgical intervention, and two were transferred to a rehabilitation service. In this era of limited resources, trauma patients who present with a GCS score of 15 after mild TBI can be safely managed without neurosurgical consultation, even in the presence of an abnormal head CT scan.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Health Care Costs
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / diagnostic imaging
  • Hematoma, Subdural / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination / economics
  • Neurosurgery*
  • Referral and Consultation* / economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy