The effect of hypotension and hypoxia on children with severe head injuries

J Pediatr Surg. 1993 Mar;28(3):310-4; discussion 315-6. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(93)90223-8.


Survival of children (< 17 years) with severe head injuries (Glascow Coma Scale [GCS] score < 8) has been shown to be better than that of adults. The addition of hypotension (HT) or hypoxia (H) has a deleterious effect on outcome in adults but no information is currently available about their effects in children. Over a 5-year period, 58 children with GCS scores < 8 were admitted and prospectively evaluated at this institution. Patients were divided into two groups on the basis of systolic blood pressure (SBP) and arterial blood gasses. Patients exhibiting HT, defined as a SBP < 90 mm Hg, and patients demonstrating H with a PaO2 < 60 mm Hg were compared with normoxic, normotensive children. Survival was increased fourfold in patients with neither H nor HT as compared with children with either H or HT (P < .001). To validate these observations we reviewed the data from the National Pediatric Trauma Registry for similar patients and included our cohort in the analysis. In total, 509 children had sufficient data for analysis and were studied. Hypoxia alone was not associated with increased mortality in normotensive patients (P = .34). Hypotension significantly increased mortality in these children even without concomitant H (P < .00001). If both HT and H were found together, mortality was only slightly increased over those children with HT alone (P = .056). These data confirm that HT with or without H causes significantly increased mortality in head-injured children to those levels normally found in adults (P = .9), alleviating any age-related protective mechanisms normally afforded.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Blood Pressure
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / metabolism
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / etiology
  • Hypotension / mortality*
  • Hypoxia / etiology
  • Hypoxia / mortality*
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Oxygen