Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Adding insult to injury: the prognostic value of early secondary insults for survival after traumatic brain injury
  1. David F Signorinia,
  2. Peter J D Andrewsb,
  3. Patricia A Jonesa,
  4. Joanna M Wardlawa,
  5. J Douglas Millera
  1. aDepartment of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK, bDepartment of Anaesthetics, University of Edinburgh, UK
  1. Dr D F Signorini, University Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Bramwell-Dott Building, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK.


OBJECTIVES To assess the prognostic value of summary measures of secondary physiological insult in addition to baseline clinical variables for patients with traumatic brain injury.

METHODS A series of 110 patients with traumatic brain injury had data on intracranial pressure (ICP), arterial blood pressure (ABP), cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), arterial O2 saturation (SaO2), temperature in °C (Temp), and heart rate in beats/min (HRT) monitored and recorded every minute. Secondary insults were defined according to the Edinburgh University secondary insult grading system. The prognostic value of summary measures of these secondary insults was assessed by adding them to a prognostic model for survival at 1 year after controlling for baseline clinical variables using a previously validated model.

RESULTS Of the eight secondary insults measured, only ICP added significantly to the prediction of survival in the first 72 hours after injury. The particular type of summary measure did not seem to influence the results. After the addition of ICP to the model, none of the other secondary insult measures could improve the predictive power of the model significantly.

CONCLUSIONS Early intracranial hypertension is confirmed as a sign of poor prognosis in patients with traumatic brain injury, even after controlling for baseline clinical variables. The value or otherwise of treating such secondary insults, however, can only be definitively established in the context of prospective randomised controlled trials. The specific pathophysiological evolution of secondary insults is still the subject of much research, and a clear understanding will be necessary before the development of specific treatments is feasible.

  • traumatic brain injury
  • prognosis
  • survival
  • secondary insults
  • adults

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.