Long-term outcomes and prognostic factors in pediatric patients with severe traumatic brain injury and elevated intracranial pressure

J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2008 Oct;2(4):240-9. doi: 10.3171/PED.2008.2.10.240.


Object: The management strategies and outcomes in pediatric patients with elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are examined in this study.

Methods: This study was a retrospective review of a prospectively acquired pediatric trauma database. More than 750 pediatric patients with brain injury were seen over a 10-year period. Records were retrospectively reviewed to determine interventions for correcting ICP, and surviving patients were contacted prospectively to determine functional status and quality of life. Only patients with 2 years of follow-up were included in the study.

Results: Ninety-six pediatric patients (age range 3-18 years) were identified with a Glasgow Coma Scale score<8 and elevated ICP>20 mm Hg on presentation. The mean injury severity score was 65 (range 30-100). All patients were treated using a standardized head injury protocol. The mean time course until peak ICP was 69 hours postinjury (range 2-196 hours). Intracranial pressure control was achieved in 82 patients (85%). Methods employed to achieve ICP control included maximal medical therapy (sedation, hyperosmolar therapy, and paralysis) in 34 patients (35%), ventriculostomy in 23 patients (24%), and surgery in 39 patients (41%). Fourteen patients (15%) had refractory ICP despite all interventions, and all of these patients died. Seventy-two patients (75%) were discharged from the hospital, whereas 24 (25%) died during hospitalization. Univariate and multivariate analysis revealed that the presence of vascular injury, refractory ICP, and cisternal effacement at presentation had the highest correlation with subsequent death (p<0.05). Mean follow-up was 53 months (range 11-126 months). Three patients died during the follow-up period (2 due to infections and 1 committed suicide). The mean 2-year Glasgow Outcome Scale score was 4 (median 4, range 1-5). The mean patient competency rating at follow-up was 4.13 out of 5 (median 4.5, range 1-4.8). Univariate analysis revealed that the extent of intracranial and systemic injuries had the highest correlation with long-term quality of life (p<0.05).

Conclusions: Controlling elevated ICP is an important factor in patient survival following severe pediatric TBI. The modality used for ICP control appears to be less important. Long-term follow-up is essential to determine neurocognitive sequelae associated with TBI.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Injuries / mortality*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / therapy
  • Intracranial Pressure / physiology*
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ventriculostomy