, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 311-316
Date: 28 Jul 2009

Glucose Control and Mortality in Patients with Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

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The optimal glucose range in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains unclear. The goal of this study was to examine the association of serum glucose levels on mortality in patients with severe TBI. As a secondary endpoint, we determined the risk of hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic events, and their association with mortality.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients admitted to the ICU between May 2000 and March 2006 with severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale ≤ 8) who survived at least 12 h. Average daily morning glucose levels for the first 10 days of admission were calculated and divided into quintiles.


A total of 170 patients were included in the analysis. We found no association between quintiles of mean daily morning glucose and hospital mortality. Episodes of hyperglycemia (≥11.1 mmol/l or 200 mg/dl) during the first 10 days occurred in 65% of patients (5.4% of all glucose measurements). Using multivariable regression, a single episode of hyperglycemia was associated with 3.6-fold increased risk of hospital mortality (95%CI: 1.2–11.2, P = 0.02). Hypoglycemia (≤4.4 mmol/l or 80 mg/dl) was present in 48% of patients (4.3% of all glucose measurements), and was not associated with mortality.


Any episode of hyperglycemia (≥11.1 mmol/l or 200 mg/dl) was associated with 3.6-fold increased risk of hospital mortality in patients with severe TBI and thus, should be avoided. Maintaining serum glucose ≤10 mmol/l appears to be a reasonable balance to avoid extremes of glucose control, but further studies are needed to determine the optimal glucose range.