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J Neurosurg Sci. 2012 Sep;56(3):231-7.

Traumatic brain injury in the elderly: considerations in a series of 103 patients older than 70.

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Department of Neurosurgery, IRCCS Istituto Clinico Humanitas, Rozzano, Milan, Italy.



Mortality and morbidity due to brain injury in the elderly population is a growing clinical problem: among older patients, those >70 years have a considerably higher risk both in terms of mortality and morbidity. Thereafter, the reasons influencing outcome have not been clearly examined: in the present study we addressed these questions considering the main clinical characteristics exerting a significant impact on the outcome of patients aged > 70, with emphasis for the severity of brain injury and anticoagulant (CAW) treatments.


We performed a retrospective analysis of 103 consecutive isolated head injury patients older than 70, admitted at our Department in the period November 2004-November 2009. The clinical variables considered were as follow: age, sex, type of TBI, GCS, pre-TBI use of anti-coagulants (aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel), INR at admission (INR values were subdivided in values >1.25 as at risk for hemorrhagic events and <1.25 as normal), initial CT scan classification looking at the presence of subarachnoid hemorrhage (t-SAH) or mass lesions; the main outcome measure was the Glasgow Outcome Scale.


The most frequent cause of TBI was accidental fall (65%): 39 were in CAW therapies and in 36 cases the cause of falling down injury was recorded due to a sincopal event (arterial hypotension, atrial fibrillation); in the older patients an accidental fall is significantly related to the TBI, while in the patients aged 70-75 years, TBI is related to a traffic accident (P=0.002). Moreover the cause of TBI correlates with the CAW treatment, the accidental fall being significantly more frequent in patients in CAW treatment (P=0.003). Overall mortality rate is significantly related to an elevated INR class, to presence of t-SAH (16/50 patients) and subdural hematoma (26/46).


The results of the present study show that in a population of patients aged > 70, TBI is a high risk event if patient has concurrent treatment with CAW therapies and if an accidental fall is the cause of TBI. In these cases the finding of t-SAH represents a high-risk parameter for mortality but not for morbidity.

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