Objective: To analyze the risk factors of worst outcome associated with moderate head injury.
Methods: Data on patients with moderate head injury were collected prospectively in 11 Italian neurosurgical units over a period of 18 months. Patients older than 18 years with blunt head injury and at least one Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score between 9 and 13 were enrolled. The outcome was determined at 6 months using the Glasgow Outcome Scale.
Results: We analyzed 315 patients. Initial computed tomographic scans showed a diffuse injury type I or II in 63%, a mass lesion in 35%, and traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage in 42% of the patients. The risk of progression toward a mass lesion was 23% when the admission computed tomographic scan showed diffuse injury type I or II. An emergency craniotomy was performed in 22% of the patients, delayed surgery was performed in 14%, and both were performed in 25%. A favorable outcome was obtained in 74% of the patients. When the GCS score was 9 or 10, the predictor of worst outcome was a motor GCS score of 4 or lower (odds ratio [OR], 8.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22-67.35; P = 0.008), but when the GCS score was 11 to 13, the factors associated with worst outcome were neuroworsening (OR, 3.43; 95% CI, 1.45-8.17; P = 0.002), seizures (OR, 7.94; 95% CI, 1.18-64.48; P = 0.02), and medical complications (OR, 4.24; 95% CI, 1.74-10.33; P = 0.0006).
Conclusion: There is a high percentage of surgery and worsening on computed tomographic scans in patients with moderate head injury. Neuroworsening, seizures, and medical complications as outcome predictors were more strongly associated with a GCS score of 11 to 13, whereas a low motor GCS score was more outcome-related in patients with GCS scores of 9 and 10.