Head injury depth as an indicator of causes and mechanisms

Kent P. Hymel, Michael A. Stoiko, Bruce E. Herman, Amy Combs, Nancy S. Harper, Deborah Lowen, Katherine P. Deye, Karen Homa, James A. Blackman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The goal was to measure differences in the causes, mechanisms, acute clinical presentations, injuries, and outcomes of children <36 months of age with varying "greatest depths" of acute cranial injury. METHODS: Children <36 months of age who were hospitalized with acute head trauma were recruited at multiple sites. Clinical and imaging data were collected, and caregivers underwent scripted interviews. Neurodevelopmental evaluations were completed 6 months after injury. Head trauma causes were categorized independently, and subject groups with varying greatest depths of injury were compared. RESULTS: Fifty-four subjects were enrolled at 9 sites. Twenty-seven subjects underwent follow-up neurodevelopmental assessments 6 months after injury. Greatest depth of visible injury was categorized as scalp, skull, or epidural for 20 subjects, subarachnoid or subdural for 13, cortical for 10, and subcortical for 11. Compared with subjects with more-superficial injuries, subjects with subcortical injuries more frequently had been abused (odds ratio [OR]: 35.6; P < .001), more frequently demonstrated inertial injuries (P < .001), more frequently manifested acute respiratory (OR: 43.9; P < .001) and/or circulatory (OR: 60.0; P< .001) compromise, acute encephalopathy (OR: 28.5; P = .003), prolonged impairments of consciousness (OR: 8.4; P = .002), interhemispheric subdural hemorrhage (OR: 10.1; P= .019), and bilateral brain hypoxia, ischemia, or swelling (OR: 241.6; P<.001), and had lower Mental Developmental Index (P= .006) and Gross Motor Quotient (P < .001) scores 6 months after injury. CONCLUSION: For children <3 years of age, head injury depth is a useful indicator of injury causes and mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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