Guidelines for Neuroprognostication in Critically Ill Adults with Moderate–Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Muehlschlegel S, Rajajee V, Wartenberg KE, Alexander SA, Busl KM, Creutzfeldt CJ, Fontaine GV, Hocker SE, Hwang DY, Kim KS, Madzar D, Mahanes D, Mainali S, Meixensberger J, Sakowitz OW, Varelas PN, Weimar C, Westermaier T (2024)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2024


DOI: 10.1007/s12028-023-01902-2


Background: Moderate–severe traumatic brain injury (msTBI) carries high morbidity and mortality worldwide. Accurate neuroprognostication is essential in guiding clinical decisions, including patient triage and transition to comfort measures. Here we provide recommendations regarding the reliability of major clinical predictors and prediction models commonly used in msTBI neuroprognostication, guiding clinicians in counseling surrogate decision-makers. Methods: Using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology, we conducted a systematic narrative review of the most clinically relevant predictors and prediction models cited in the literature. The review involved framing specific population/intervention/comparator/outcome/timing/setting (PICOTS) questions and employing stringent full-text screening criteria to examine the literature, focusing on four GRADE criteria: quality of evidence, desirability of outcomes, values and preferences, and resource use. Moreover, good practice recommendations addressing the key principles of neuroprognostication were drafted. Results: After screening 8125 articles, 41 met our eligibility criteria. Ten clinical variables and nine grading scales were selected. Many articles varied in defining “poor” functional outcomes. For consistency, we treated “poor” as “unfavorable”. Although many clinical variables are associated with poor outcome in msTBI, only the presence of bilateral pupillary nonreactivity on admission, conditional on accurate assessment without confounding from medications or injuries, was deemed moderately reliable for counseling surrogates regarding 6-month functional outcomes or in-hospital mortality. In terms of prediction models, the Corticosteroid Randomization After Significant Head Injury (CRASH)-basic, CRASH-CT (CRASH-basic extended by computed tomography features), International Mission for Prognosis and Analysis of Clinical Trials in TBI (IMPACT)-core, IMPACT-extended, and IMPACT-lab models were recommended as moderately reliable in predicting 14-day to 6-month mortality and functional outcomes at 6 months and beyond. When using “moderately reliable” predictors or prediction models, the clinician must acknowledge “substantial” uncertainty in the prognosis. Conclusions: These guidelines provide recommendations to clinicians on the formal reliability of individual predictors and prediction models of poor outcome when counseling surrogates of patients with msTBI and suggest broad principles of neuroprognostication.

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Muehlschlegel, S., Rajajee, V., Wartenberg, K.E., Alexander, S.A., Busl, K.M., Creutzfeldt, C.J.,... Westermaier, T. (2024). Guidelines for Neuroprognostication in Critically Ill Adults with Moderate–Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. Neurocritical Care.


Muehlschlegel, Susanne, et al. "Guidelines for Neuroprognostication in Critically Ill Adults with Moderate–Severe Traumatic Brain Injury." Neurocritical Care (2024).

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