Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 840–845

A prospective study of outcome predictors after severe brain injury in children

Pediatric Original

DOI: 10.1007/s00134-005-2634-0

Cite this article as:
Carter, B.G. & Butt, W. Intensive Care Med (2005) 31: 840. doi:10.1007/s00134-005-2634-0



To directly compare the predictive powers of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) to those of motor and pupillary responses.

Design and setting

Prospective clinical study in a paediatric intensive care unit.

Patients and participants

102 severely brain-injured children less than 15 years of age.

Measurements and results

SEPs and motor and pupillary responses were serially recorded during the first 9 days after admission. Initial, last and those tests performed on or after day 2 were analysed. Outcome was assessed 5 years after injury. SEPs had equal or superior predictive statistics and ROC curves compared to the other tests with few exceptions. Pupillary responses had higher sensitivity for favourable outcome prediction while for unfavourable outcome prediction the last motor responses had higher sensitivity, and the last pupillary responses had slightly higher specificity. Combining SEPs and motor responses provided the best combination for predicting unfavourable outcome.


SEPs are the best overall predictor of outcome while motor and pupillary responses have advantages in some specific areas. The routine use of SEPs should be considered in the prediction of outcome of severely brain-injured patients.


Somatosensory evoked potentialsClinical signsMotor responsePupillary responseBrain injuryHead injury

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Paediatric Intensive Care UnitRoyal Children’s HospitalParkville, MelbourneAustralia