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A physiological coma scale: grading of coma by combined use of brain-stem trigeminal and auditory evoked potentials and the Glasgow Coma Scale.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.


Forty-five comatose patients were prospectively studied by means of clinical examination and evoked potentials. In each patient, clinical data included Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, age, pupillary response to light, corneal reflex, and eye movements. Neurophysiological evaluation was based on brain-stem trigeminal evoked potentials (BTEPs) and brain-stem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs). For each physiological test, a progressive grading system was designed. This system was based on the evaluation of central conduction times along the trigeminal and the auditory pathways within the brain-stem. The accuracy of the clinical and the neurophysiological indicants in predicting "favorable" or "unfavorable" outcome was assessed singly and in combination. Of the clinical indicants, the GCS provided the most accurate prognosis (80%). Similar results were provided by the BAEP and the BTEP, with significant improvement in the confidence of outcome prediction. No significant difference in the accuracy of outcome predictions could be found between combined clinical data and neurophysiological data. However, the combination of clinical and neurophysiological data markedly increased both the accuracy and the confidence of outcome prediction, reaching 86% correct predictions at the over 90% confidence level with only 2% false pessimistic errors. According to these findings, a clinical-physiological coma scale, the trigeminal-auditory Glasgow (Coma Scale) score (TAG score) was designed. The TAG score demonstrated the highest accuracy at each confidence level as compared to other single indicants. We concluded that the TAG score may improve the evaluation of deep comatose patients and assist the physician in the management of such patients.

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[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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