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Journal Article


Lieberman JD, Pasquale MD, Garcia R, Cipolle MD, Mark Li P, Wasser TE. J. Trauma 2003; 55(3): 437-442; discussion 442-3.


Department of Surgery, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18105, USA.


(Copyright © 2003, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins)






BACKGROUND: Determination of nonsurvival in trauma patients is difficult because valid prognostic indicators are lacking. It was hypothesized that patients presenting with a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 3 as well as fixed and dilated (FD) pupils do not have a reasonable chance of survival. METHODS: From 1999 through 2001, adult trauma patients (age, >14 years) admitted with a GCS of 3 were reviewed. Patients receiving paralytic agents before initial assessment were excluded from analysis. Fixed and dilated pupils were defined as being 4 mm or more in diameter bilaterally and nonreactive to light. In this study, the FD patients were evaluated for survival, resuscitative measures, surgical procedures, length of hospital stay, and organ donation. The non-FD patients were evaluated for survival and length of hospital stay. RESULTS: Of the 137 patients evaluated with a GCS of 3, 104 had FD pupils and 33 did not. In the FD group, there were no survivors. On arrival, 28 (37.3%) of the patients were declared dead, and no further interventions were undertaken. Of the 76 patients (62.7%) who underwent further resuscitation, which included 53 surgical procedures, 30 died in the resuscitation bay, 39 within 24 hours, 4 within 48 hours, 2 within 72 hours, and 1 on day 6. There were 18 (23.7%) organ donors. Of the 33 patients without FD pupils, 11 (33%) survived to discharge (mean hospital stay, 21.4 days). Of the 22 nonsurvivors (67%), 10 died in the resuscitation bay, 8 within 24 hours, 1 within 48 hours, 1 on day 4, and 2 on day 6. CONCLUSIONS: Patients presenting with a GCS of 3 and FD pupils have no reasonable chance for survival. A significant percentage of these patients can be salvaged for organ donation. This information should be used in deciding to pursue aggressive resuscitation efforts and in discussing prognosis with family. Patients with a GCS of 3 who are not FD should be aggressively resuscitated because many of these patients survive to discharge.


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