, Volume 117, Issue 3-4, pp 153-159

Clinical outcome and cognitive impairment in patients with severe head injuries treated with barbiturate coma

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This study reports on clinical outcome in 38 patients with severe head injuries (posttraumatic coma for 6 hours or more) treated with barbiturate coma because of intracranial hypertension. Eighteen patients died, 4 patients remained in a severely disabled or a chronic vegetative state, and 16 patients reached the levels good recovery/ moderate disability. Six of these patients returned to work or school full time, 4 for half time and 3 were in a rehabilitation program. Fourteen patients were subjected to a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. All patients except one exhibited varying degrees of cognitive dysfunction and 6 patients had signs of personality change. The quality of life for the majority of surviving patients was relatively good but the positive effects of barbiturate coma therapy in the age groups over 40 years appeared to be limited.