The role of MR imaging in assessing prognosis after severe and moderate head injury

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2009 Apr;151(4):341-56. doi: 10.1007/s00701-009-0194-8. Epub 2009 Feb 18.


Purpose: The objective of this work is two-fold: to determine the role of MRI findings in establishing the prognosis of patients with moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) admitted to our centre, measured with different outcome scales; and to determine in which patients the information given by MR findings adds prognostic information to that from traditional prognostic factors.

Methods: One hundred patients suffering moderate or severe head injury in whom MRI had been performed in the first 30 days after trauma were included. The MRI was evaluated by two neuroradiologists who were not aware of the initial CT results or the clinical situation of the patients. Outcome was determined 6 months after head injury by means of the extended version of the Glasgow Outcome Scale. The prognostic capacity of the different factors related to outcome was compared by the analysis of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and the area under the curve (AUC) for each factor.

Results: There exists a clear relation between the depth of the traumatic lesions shown on MRI, and their classification by the proposed scale, and the outcome of patients suffering traumatic brain injury determined by different scales 6 months after injury.

Conclusions: The anatomical substrate of TBI depicted by MRI could be a useful prognostic tool in patients suffering moderate and severe head injury. Patients with a score of 4 or less on the motor subscale of the GCS scale are those who could benefit most from the prognostic information provided by MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury / diagnosis
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult