Traumatic Brain Injury

Izzy S, Mazwi NL, Martinez S, Spencer CA, Klein JP, Parikh G, Glenn MB, Greenberg SM, Greer DM, Wu O, Edlow BL. Revisiting Grade 3 Diffuse Axonal Injury: Not All Brainstem Microbleeds are Prognostically Equal. Neurocrit Care 2017;27(2):199-207.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Recovery of functional independence is possible in patients with brainstem traumatic axonal injury (TAI), also referred to as "grade 3 diffuse axonal injury," but acute prognostic biomarkers are lacking. We hypothesized that the extent of dorsal brainstem TAI measured by burden of traumatic microbleeds (TMBs) correlates with 1-year functional outcome more strongly than does ventral brainstem, corpus callosal, or global brain TMB burden. Further, we hypothesized that TMBs within brainstem nuclei of the ascending arousal network (AAN) correlate with 1-year outcome. METHODS: Using a prospective outcome database of patients treated for moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, we retrospectively identified 39 patients who underwent acute gradient-recalled echo (GRE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). TMBs were counted on the acute GRE scans globally and in the dorsal brainstem, ventral brainstem, and corpus callosum. TMBs were also mapped onto an atlas of AAN nuclei. The primary outcome was the disability rating scale (DRS) score at 1 year post-injury. Associations between regional TMBs, AAN TMB volume, and 1-year DRS score were assessed by calculating Spearman rank correlation coefficients. RESULTS: Mean ± SD number of TMBs was: dorsal brainstem = 0.7 ± 1.4, ventral brainstem = 0.2 ± 0.6, corpus callosum = 1.8 ± 2.8, and global = 14.4 ± 12.5. The mean ± SD TMB volume within AAN nuclei was 6.1 ± 18.7 mm3. Increased dorsal brainstem TMBs and larger AAN TMB volume correlated with worse 1-year outcomes (R = 0.37, p = 0.02, and R = 0.36, p = 0.02, respectively). Global, callosal, and ventral brainstem TMBs did not correlate with outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that dorsal brainstem TAI, especially involving AAN nuclei, may have greater prognostic utility than the total number of lesions in the brain or brainstem.
Edlow BL, Chatelle C, Spencer CA, Chu CJ, Bodien YG, O'Connor KL, Hirschberg RE, Hochberg LR, Giacino JT, Rosenthal ES, Wu O. Early detection of consciousness in patients with acute severe traumatic brain injury. Brain 2017;140(9):2399-2414.Abstract
See Schiff (doi:10.1093/awx209) for a scientific commentary on this article. Patients with acute severe traumatic brain injury may recover consciousness before self-expression. Without behavioural evidence of consciousness at the bedside, clinicians may render an inaccurate prognosis, increasing the likelihood of withholding life-sustaining therapies or denying rehabilitative services. Task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography techniques have revealed covert consciousness in the chronic setting, but these techniques have not been tested in the intensive care unit. We prospectively enrolled 16 patients admitted to the intensive care unit for acute severe traumatic brain injury to test two hypotheses: (i) in patients who lack behavioural evidence of language expression and comprehension, functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography detect command-following during a motor imagery task (i.e. cognitive motor dissociation) and association cortex responses during language and music stimuli (i.e. higher-order cortex motor dissociation); and (ii) early responses to these paradigms are associated with better 6-month outcomes on the Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended. Patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging on post-injury Day 9.2 ± 5.0 and electroencephalography on Day 9.8 ± 4.6. At the time of imaging, behavioural evaluation with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised indicated coma (n = 2), vegetative state (n = 3), minimally conscious state without language (n = 3), minimally conscious state with language (n = 4) or post-traumatic confusional state (n = 4). Cognitive motor dissociation was identified in four patients, including three whose behavioural diagnosis suggested a vegetative state. Higher-order cortex motor dissociation was identified in two additional patients. Complete absence of responses to language, music and motor imagery was only observed in coma patients. In patients with behavioural evidence of language function, responses to language and music were more frequently observed than responses to motor imagery (62.5-80% versus 33.3-42.9%). Similarly, in 16 matched healthy subjects, responses to language and music were more frequently observed than responses to motor imagery (87.5-100% versus 68.8-75.0%). Except for one patient who died in the intensive care unit, all patients with cognitive motor dissociation and higher-order cortex motor dissociation recovered beyond a confusional state by 6 months. However, 6-month outcomes were not associated with early functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography responses for the entire cohort. These observations suggest that functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography can detect command-following and higher-order cortical function in patients with acute severe traumatic brain injury. Early detection of covert consciousness and cortical responses in the intensive care unit could alter time-sensitive decisions about withholding life-sustaining therapies.

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