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Temporal lobe contusions on computed tomography are associated with impaired 6-month functional recovery after mild traumatic brain injury: a TRACK-TBI study.



Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) can cause persistent functional deficits and healthcare burden. Understanding the association between intracranial contusions and outcome may aid in MTBI treatment and prognosis.


MTBI patients with Glasgow Coma Scale 13-15 and 6-month outcomes [Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended (GOSE)], without polytrauma from the prospective TRACK-TBI Pilot study were analyzed. Intracranial contusions on computed tomography (CT) were coded by location. Multivariable regression evaluated associations between intracranial injury type (temporal contusion [TC], frontal contusion, extraaxial [epidural/subdural/subarachnoid], other-intraaxial [intracerebral/intraventricular hemorrhage, axonal injury]) and GOSE. Odds ratios (OR) are reported.


Overall, 260 MTBI subjects were aged 44.4 ± 18.1-years; 67.7% were male. Ninety-seven subjects were CT-positive and 46 had contusions (41.3%-frontal, 30.4%-temporal, 21.7%-frontal + temporal, 2.2% each-parietal/occipital/brainstem); 95.7% had concurrent extraaxial hemorrhage. Mortality was 0% at discharge and 2.3% by 6-months. GOSE distribution was 2.3%-death, 1.5%-severe disability, 27.7%-moderate disability, 68.5%-good recovery. Forty-six percent of TC-positive subjects suffered moderate disability or worse (GOSE ≤6) and 41.7% were unable to return to baseline work capacity (RTBWC), compared to 29.1%/20.4% for CT-negative and 26.1%/20.9% for CT-positive subjects without TC. On multivariable regression, TC associated with OR = 3.33 (95% CI [1.16-9.60], p = 0.026) for GOSE ≤6, and OR = 4.48 ([1.49-13.51], p = 0.008) for inability to RTBWC.


Parenchymal contusions in MTBI are often accompanied by extraaxial hemorrhage. TCs may be associated with 6-month functional impairment. Their presence on imaging should alert the clinician to the need for heightened surveillance of sequelae complicating RTBWC, with low threshold for referral to services.

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