Treatment and outcome of the severely head injured child

Intensive Care Med. 1983;9(1):13-6. doi: 10.1007/BF01693699.


Twenty-four children (aged 3 months to 14 years) with severe head injuries were treated by means of invasive neurointensive care for normalizing intracranial pressure (ICP) involving hyperventilation, control of body temperature, dexamethasone, barbiturates and continuous intracranial and arterial pressure monitoring. The Glasgow Coma Scale before initiation of treatment was 3-4 in 8, 5-6 in 9 and 7 in 7 patients. Moderately to severely elevated ICP was observed in 20 patients. Seven developed acute and subacute space occupying intracranial hematomas. Nineteen children (79%) survived, most often with good recovery and 5 (21%) died. Severely elevated ICP, presence of severe consumption coagulopathy and loss of components in brain auditory evoked potentials were significantly more frequent in the fatal group. We conclude that the prognosis of the severely head injured child can be improved by prompt resuscitation and aggressive neurointensive care but probably not, however, to the extent postulated in recent literature.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Temperature
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / therapy*
  • Critical Care*
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intracranial Pressure
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Phenobarbital / therapeutic use
  • Respiratory Therapy


  • Dexamethasone
  • Dopamine
  • Phenobarbital