Predictors of long-term neurological outcomes in non-accidental head injury

Eye (Lond). 2018 Mar;32(3):608-614. doi: 10.1038/eye.2017.266. Epub 2017 Dec 8.


BackgroundNon-accidental head injury (NAI) is an inflicted injury usually on a child, often resulting in long-term neurological impairment and occasionally death. This study aimed to investigate the predictive values of acute findings, especially ocular, for long-term neurological outcomes.MethodsMedical records including retinal images of all children who attended the local Children's hospital with a diagnosis of NAI from over a period of 5 years were reviewed and data collected via the electronic patient record system. Patient demographics, injuries sustained, wide-field digital retinal images, visual acuity and sequalae, neurological function, and global function was noted. IBM SPSS software program was used for statistical analysis.ResultsOf the 38 patients (24 males, 14 females), 12 children died acutely from the head injury with the remaining 26 children available for long-term follow-up. A younger age of injury (P=0.004) was the only statistically significant predictor of good neurological outcome as compared with absence of macular retinoschisis, unilateral retinal haemorrhage, and unilateral subdural haemorrhage. Of the 38 children, 17 children had retinoschisis; 9 children with macular retinoschisis died acutely while 4 suffered a degree of developmental delay and only 4 were developmentally normal at the last follow-up. Long-term visual acuity data was available for 18 of the 26 survivors (range: NPL to Snellen 6/5). A statistical significance was noted between retinoschisis and worsened visual acuity (P<0.05).ConclusionsBilateral macular retinoschisis on acute presentation of NAI is associated with a seven-fold and unilateral with a four-fold increase in the development of a poor neurological outcome and eventual death. Conflicting to other studies, younger children presented better neurological outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child Abuse / mortality
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / mortality
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Retinoschisis / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Visual Acuity