Pediatric traumatic brain injury: an update of research to understand and improve outcomes

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death in the pediatric population. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent contributions in evaluation, management, and predictors of outcome in pediatric traumatic brain injury.

Recent findings

Advances have been made in defining the critical Glasgow Coma Score for predicting poor outcome and in developing the Relative Head Injury Severity Score, which can assess severity of traumatic brain injury from administrative datasets. More information regarding the radiation risks of head computed tomography imaging and guidelines for the appropriate use of imaging have recently been evaluated. Important steps have also been taken to reduce secondary brain injury through the use of hypertonic saline and induced hypothermia. There continues to be long-term neurodevelopmental deficits among survivors and new tools to assess these deficits have been developed and tested. Finally, increased investigation into understanding the impact of minority race and socioeconomic status has on outcome following traumatic brain injury has determined the existence of disturbing disparities.

Summary

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of mortality and is a major public health issue in the pediatric population. There have been many recent contributions in the diagnosis, treatment, and long-term morbidity of traumatic brain injury. Ongoing work is needed to improve outcomes of traumatic brain injury equitably for all patients.

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