Objective: To characterize late neuropathological findings of pediatric closed head injury (CHI), to assess depth of brain lesion in relation to acute severity, and to assess long-term outcome to test the Ommaya-Gennarelli model.
Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at least 3 months postinjury in a prospective sample (n 5 169) and at least 3 years after CHI in a retrospective sample (n 5 82) was studied. Lesion volume was measured by planimetry. Acute CHI severity was measured by the Glasgow Coma Scale. Patients were classified according to the depth of the deepest parenchymal lesion into no lesion, subcortical, and deep central gray/brain stem groups. The outcomes were assessed by the Glasgow Outcome Scale and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, which were performed at the time of the MRI in the retrospective sample and up to 3 years postinjury in the prospective sample.
Results: Focal brain lesions were present in 55.4% of the total sample. Depth of brain lesion was directly related to severity of acute impairment of consciousness and inversely related to outcome, as measured by both the Glasgow Outcome Scale and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale. A rostrocaudal gradient of hemispheric lesion frequency was observed, whereas the posterior lesions of the corpus callosum were particularly common. Total lesion volume could not explain the depth of lesion effect.
Conclusion: Our findings extend support for the Ommaya-Gennarelli model to pediatric CHI, indicating that depth of brain lesion is related to functional outcome. The relative frequency of focal brain lesions revealed by late MRI is higher than that of previous findings using acute computed tomography. Future investigations could explore whether depth of lesion observed using late MRI is sensitive to neuroprotective interventions.