Outcomes of Blunt Head Trauma Without Intracranial Pressure Monitoring

Akopian, Gabriel; Gaspard, Donald J.; Alexander, Magdi
May 2007
American Surgeon;May2007, Vol. 73 Issue 5, p447
Academic Journal
Although guidelines exist for intracranial pressure (ICP)-guided treatment after head trauma, no conclusive data exist that support routine ICP monitoring. A retrospective case series was reviewed of all patients admitted to the intensive care unit with a diagnosis of blunt head trauma between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2004. None of the patients in the final analysis had ICP monitoring. Data collected included age, sex, mechanism of injury, Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) at admission, injury severity score, disposition, and length of stay. One hundred thirty-one patients with a median age of 41 years were included. There were 104 men (79%). The median GCS at admission was 12. There were 22 deaths (17% mortality). Stepwise logistic regression analysis identified older age, higher injury severity score, and lower GCS to be predictors of death. The mortality rate was higher in patients with GCS ≤8 compared with GCS >8 (33% vs 8%, respectively; P < 0.001). Ten of 23 patients with a GCS of 3 died (43% mortality). The median time to death for patients with a GCS of 3 was 2 days. Although the Brain Trauma Foundation has published guidelines advocating routine ICP monitoring, no large randomized prospective studies are available to determine its effect on outcome. None of the patients in this study had ICP monitoring. Our overall survival rate of 83 per cent is relatively high. Patients with a low GCS and, specifically, those with a GCS of 3 may not benefit from ICP monitoring because of early and irreversible trauma. Variability in the use of ICP monitoring will remain until ICP monitoring can be conclusively proven to improve outcome.


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