Predictive value of the Thompson score for short-term adverse outcomes in neonatal encephalopathy

Pediatr Res. 2023 Mar;93(4):1057-1063. doi: 10.1038/s41390-022-02212-7. Epub 2022 Jul 30.


Background: To explore the predictive value of the Thompson score during the first 4 days of life for estimating short-term adverse outcomes in neonatal encephalopathy.

Methods: This observational study evaluated infants with neonatal encephalopathy (≥36 weeks of gestation) registered in a multicenter cohort of cooled infants in Japan. The Thompson score was evaluated at 0-24, 24-48, 48-72, and 72-90 h of age. Adverse outcomes included death, survival with respiratory impairment (requiring tracheostomy), or survival with feeding impairment (requiring gavage feeding) at discharge.

Results: Of the 632 infants, 21 (3.3%) died, 59 (9.3%) survived with respiratory impairment, and 113 (17.9%) survived with feeding impairment. The Thompson score throughout the first 4 days accurately predicted death, respiratory impairment, or feeding impairment. The 72-90 h score showed the highest accuracy. A cutoff of ≥15 had a sensitivity of 0.85 and specificity of 0.92 for death or respiratory impairment, while a cutoff of ≥14 had a sensitivity of 0.71 and a specificity of 0.92 for death, respiratory or feeding impairment.

Conclusion: A high Thompson score during the first 4 days of life, especially at 72-90 h could thus be useful for estimating the need for prolonged life support.

Impact: The Thompson score on days 1-4 of age was useful in predicting death and respiratory or feeding impairments. The 72-90 h Thompson score showed the highest predictive capability. Owing to the rarity of withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in Japan, 43% of infants with persistent severe encephalopathy with a Thompson score of ≥15 at 72-90 h of age could regain spontaneous breathing, be extubated, and survive without tracheostomy. Meanwhile, approximately 50% of infants who survived without tracheostomy required gavage feeding. Our results could provide useful information for clinical decision making regarding infants with persistent severe encephalopathy.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases* / therapy
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced* / methods
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases* / therapy
  • Japan