JOURNAL ARTICLE

Further experience in the management of severe head injury

J D Miller, J F Butterworth, S K Gudeman, J E Faulkner, S C Choi, J B Selhorst, J W Harbison, H A Lutz, H F Young, D P Becker
Journal of Neurosurgery 1981, 54 (3): 289-99
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A prospective and consecutive series of 225 patients with severe head injuries who were managed in a uniform way was analyzed to relate outcome to several clinical variables. Good recovery or moderate disability were achieved by 56% of the patients, 10% remained severely disabled or vegetative, and 34% died. Factors important in predicting a poor outcome included the presence of intracranial hematoma, increasing age, abnormal motor responses, impaired or absent eye movements or pupil light reflexes, early hypotension, hypoxemia or hypercarbia, and elevation of intracranial pressure over 20 mm Hg despite artificial ventilation. Most of these predictive factors were assessed on admission, but a subset of 158 patients was identified in whom coma was present on admission and was known to have persisted at least until the following day. Although the mortality in this subset (40%) was higher than in the total series, it was lower than in several comparable reported series of patients with severe head injury. Predictive correlations were equally strong in the entire series and in the subset of 158 patients with coma. A plea is made for inclusion in the definition of "severe head injury" of all patients who do not obey commands or utter recognizable words on admission to the hospital after early resuscitation.

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