Nontraumatic coma in the pediatric intensive care unit: etiology, clinical characteristics and outcome

Turk J Med Sci. 2021 Feb 26;51(1):214-223. doi: 10.3906/sag-2004-330.

Abstract

Background/aim: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the etiology, clinical characteristics, and outcome of nontraumatic coma (NTC) among children admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

Materials and methods: A total of 159 children with NTC were included in the study. The modified Glasgow coma scale (GCS) was used to assess consciousness. Patients were classified with regard to etiology. For each patient, demographic and clinical characteristics, survival and degree of disability at PICU discharge were recorded.

Results: Median age was 55 months (IQR: 17.0 - 109.0). The most common cause of NTC was neuroinfection (31.4%) followed by toxic- metabolic conditions (25.8%) and epileptic disorder (15.1%). There was no significant relationship between the level of encephalopathy at admission and NTC etiology. A total of 13 patients died (8.2%). Among the survivors, 61.6% were discharged without any neurologic deficit, 2.8% had severe neurologic disability, and 3.4% were in a vegetative state. Complete neurological recovery was significantly more common in patients with toxic metabolic disease, whereas neurological deficits were more frequent in patients with tuberculous meningo-encephalitis (P = 0.01 and P = 0.04, respectively). Higher pediatric risk of mortality III (PRISM III) score at PICU admission (Odds ratio: 1.51, 95% CI: 1.19 - 1.92; P < 0.001) was the only variable that was independently associated with mortality. The length of stay (LOS) at hospital (Odds ratio: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.58-0.91; P = 0.006) was associated with improved odds of survival.

Conclusions: Although results obtained from this single-center study cannot be generalized to the pediatric population, the contribution to the literature in terms of the relationships between NTC etiology, and outcome can be crucial for clinical decision-making. We report neuroinfection as the most common cause of NTC, and the only factor that was closely associated with mortality was PRISM III score. Length of hospital stay was inversely correlated to patient mortality.

Keywords: Coma; children; etiology; pediatric critical care; nontraumatic; outcome.