Initial predictive factors of outcome in severe non-accidental head trauma in children
OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to assess the prognostic value of early brain scintigraphy in head injury in relation to long-term neuropsychological behavior. Twenty-four patients underwent technetium-99m (Tc-99m) ethyl cysteinate dimer single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) within 1 month of the trauma. Scintigraphic abnormalities were evaluated both visually and semiquantitatively using the brain-to-cerebellum ratio method. The clinical neuropsychological investigation was conducted to evaluate abnormalities related to motor deficit, frontal behavior, and memory and language disorders. All patients had abnormalities on SPECT scan. One year after trauma, 14 patients (58%) had neuropsychological sequelae. The brain-to-cerebellum ratios in the left basal ganglia and brain stem were significantly decreased in patients with memory disorders (P = .03 and P = .02, respectively). Moreover, SPECT visual analysis indicated that low uptake in the basal ganglia, thalamus, and brain stem was associated with subsequent motor deficit, frontal behavior, and language and memory disorders. The authors conclude that brain SPECT can be valuable in predicting the neuropsychological behavior of survivors of severe head injury.