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J Neurotrauma. 2018 Mar 1;35(5):703-718. doi: 10.1089/neu.2017.5259. Epub 2018 Jan 11.

The Risk of Deterioration in GCS13-15 Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury Identified by Computed Tomography Imaging: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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1 Hull York Medical School, University of Hull , Hull, United Kingdom .
2 School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield , Sheffield, United Kingdom .
3 Emergency Department, Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust , Hull, United Kingdom .
4 Hull York Medical School, University of Hull , Hull, United Kingdom .
5 Emergency Unit, Presidio Ospedaliero Morgagni-Pierantoni , AUSL della Romagna, Forlì, Italy .
6 Department of Health Sciences, University of York , Alcuin Research Resource Center, Heslington, York, United Kingdom .


The optimal management of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with injuries identified by computed tomography (CT) brain scan is unclear. Some guidelines recommend hospital admission for an observation period of at least 24 h. Others argue that selected lower-risk patients can be discharged from the Emergency Department (ED). The objective of our review and meta-analysis was to estimate the risk of death, neurosurgical intervention, and clinical deterioration in mild TBI patients with injuries identified by CT brain scan, and assess which patient factors affect the risk of these outcomes. A systematic review and meta-analysis adhering to PRISMA standards of protocol and reporting were conducted. Study selection was performed by two independent reviewers. Meta-analysis using a random effects model was undertaken to estimate pooled risks for: clinical deterioration, neurosurgical intervention, and death. Meta-regression was used to explore between-study variation in outcome estimates using study population characteristics. Forty-nine primary studies and five reviews were identified that met the inclusion criteria. The estimated pooled risk for the outcomes of interest were: clinical deterioration 11.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11.7%-15.8%), neurosurgical intervention 3.5% (95% CI: 2.2%-4.9%), and death 1.4% (95% CI: 0.8%-2.2%). Twenty-one studies presented within-study estimates of the effect of patient factors. Meta-regression of study characteristics and pooling of within-study estimates of risk factor effect found the following factors significantly affected the risk for adverse outcomes: age, initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), type of injury, and anti-coagulation. The generalizability of many studies was limited due to population selection. Mild TBI patients with injuries identified by CT brain scan have a small but clinically important risk for serious adverse outcomes. This review has identified several prognostic factors; research is needed to derive and validate a usable clinical decision rule so that low-risk patients can be safely discharged from the ED.


intra-cranial hemorrhage; mild traumatic brain injury; minor head injury; prognostic modeling

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