Epidemiological Pattern of Traumatic Brain Injury in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

World Neurosurg. 2022 May;161:e698-e709. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2022.02.081. Epub 2022 Feb 26.


Background: Although the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has decreased since the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is still evolving, the number of TBI cases has still greatly increased in multiple countries. In the present systematic review and meta-analysis, we evaluated the epidemiological characteristics of patients with TBI before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature search of original studies, short reports, and research letters from databases on studies that contained data about the severity, mortality, presence of neurological deficits, radiological diagnosis, cause of injury, and type of management of TBI during a specified period within the pandemic compared with before the pandemic.

Results: A total of 18,490 subjects from 13 studies were included in the present study. The results of the meta-analysis showed a higher TBI mortality rate during the COVID-19 pandemic in the low-to-middle income countries (odds ratio, 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-2.41; P < 0.05; I2 = 40.8%; P = 0.18). The proportion of subdural hemorrhage was decreased, and the proportion of subarachnoid hemorrhage was increased in low- to middle-income and high-income countries, respectively. The proportion of assaults as the cause of TBI had increased during the pandemic (odds ratio, 1.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.86; P = 0.02; I2 = 20.8%; P = 0.28). We did not find any significant differences in the incidence of surgical intervention for TBI during the pandemic.

Conclusions: Our results have indicated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the TBI mortality rate had increased in low- to middle-income countries. The rate of assault as the cause of TBI had also increased during the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Epidemiology; Neurological trauma; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / therapy
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2