Big children or little adults? A statewide analysis of adolescent isolated severe traumatic brain injury outcomes at pediatric versus adult trauma centers

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

The appropriate managing center for adolescent trauma patients is debated. We sought to determine whether outcome differences existed for adolescent severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) patients treated at pediatric versus adult trauma centers. We hypothesized that no difference in mortality, functional status at discharge (FSD), or overall complication rate would be observed between center types.

METHODS

All adolescent trauma patients (aged 15–17 years) presenting with isolated sTBI (head Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] score ≥3; all other AIS body region scores ≤2) to accredited Levels I to II trauma centers in Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2015 were extracted from the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study database. Dead on arrival, transfer, and penetrating trauma patients were excluded from analysis. Adult trauma centers were defined as non-pediatirc (PED) (n = 24), whereas standalone pediatric hospitals and adult centers with pediatric affiliation were considered Pediatric (n = 9). Multilevel mixed effects logistic regression models and a generalized linear mixed models assessed the adjusted impact of center type on mortality, overall complications, and FSD. Significance was defined as a p value less than 0.05.

RESULTS

A total of 1,109 isolated sTBI patients aged 15 to 17 years presented over the 13-year study period (non-PED, 685; PED, 424). In adjusted analysis controlling for age, shock index, head AIS, Glasgow Coma Scale motor, trauma center level of managing facility, case volume of managing facility, and injury year, no significant difference in mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.23–2.86; p = 0.754), FSD (coefficient, −0.85; 95% CI, −2.03 to 0.28; p = 0.136), or total complication rate (adjusted odds ratio, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.43–3.39; p = 0.714) was observed between center types.

CONCLUSION

Although the optimal treatment facility for adolescent patients is frequently debated, patients aged 15 to 17 years presenting with isolated sTBI may experience similar outcomes when managed at pediatric and adult trauma centers.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Epidemiologic study, level III; therapeutic study, level IV.

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