European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 164, Issue 7, pp 417–420 | Cite as

Somatosensory evoked potentials in children with severe head trauma

  • Johannes SchalamonEmail author
  • Georg Singer
  • Senta Kurschel
  • Michael E. Höllwarth
Original Paper


We evaluated the predictive value of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) in a series of children with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The prospective clinical investigation was performed in a Level I paediatric trauma centre. We included 26 consecutive comatose paediatric patients aged from 1 month to 17 years (median age 11 years) following severe TBI (initial Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) 8 or below). Besides SEP recordings, the intracranial pressure and the results of an initial cranial CT scan were filed. The Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) was used to assess outcome at discharge. Thirteen children had normal SEP measurements, three patients had abnormal SEP recordings and a cortical response was bilaterally absent in ten children. Out of 26 children, 10 died whereas two remained in a persistent vegetative state. Only one child suffered from significant neurological deficits (GOS 3) at discharge. Seven patients survived with a GOS of 4 and six children survived without neurological impairment (GOS 5). Normal SEP indicated a favourable outcome in most children but did not rule out the occurrence of death, while absence of SEP was related to unfavourable outcome in all cases. Conclusion: Measurement of somatosensory evoked potentials provides valuable data for determining the prognosis at early coma stages. Our data show that an unfavourable outcome can be predicted with higher precision than a favourable outcome.


Children Head trauma Prognosis Somatosensory evoked potentials 



auditory brainstem responses


cranial computed tomography


epidural haematoma


Glasgow Coma Score


Glasgow Outcome Scale


intracranial pressure


midline shift


persistent vegetative state


subarachnoidal bleeding


somatosensory evoked potentials


traumatic brain injury


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Schalamon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Georg Singer
    • 1
  • Senta Kurschel
    • 2
  • Michael E. Höllwarth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Paediatric SurgeryMedical University of GrazGraz Austria
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryMedical University of GrazGraz Austria

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