Midline Shift is Unrelated to Subjective Pupillary Reactivity Assessment on Admission in Moderate and Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.

18 May 2018

BACKGROUND: This study aims to determine the relationship between pupillary reactivity, midline shift and basal cistern effacement on brain computed tomography (CT) in moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). All are important diagnostic and prognostic measures, but their relationship is unclear. METHODS: A total of 204 patients with moderate-to-severe TBI, documented pupillary reactivity, and archived neuroimaging were included. Extent of midline shift and basal cistern effacement were extracted from admission brain CT. Mean midline shift was calculated for each ordinal category of pupillary reactivity and basal cistern effacement. Sequential Chi-square analysis was used to calculate a threshold midline shift for pupillary abnormalities and basal cistern effacement. Univariable and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed. RESULTS: Pupils were bilaterally reactive in 163 patients, unilaterally reactive in 24, and bilaterally unreactive in 17, with mean midline shift (mm) of 1.96, 3.75, and 2.56, respectively (p = 0.14). Basal cisterns were normal in 118 patients, compressed in 45, and absent in 41, with mean midline shift (mm) of 0.64, 2.97, and 5.93, respectively (p < 0.001). Sequential Chi-square analysis identified a threshold for abnormal pupils at a midline shift of 7-7.25 mm (p = 0.032), compressed basal cisterns at 2 mm (p < 0.001), and completely effaced basal cisterns at 7.5 mm (p < 0.001). Logistic regression revealed no association between midline shift and pupillary reactivity. With effaced basal cisterns, the odds ratio for normal pupils was 0.22 (95% CI 0.08-0.56; p = 0.0016) and for at least one unreactive pupil was 0.061 (95% CI 0.012-0.24; p < 0.001). Basal cistern effacement strongly predicted midline shift (OR 1.27; 95% CI 1.17-1.40; p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Basal cistern effacement alone is associated with pupillary reactivity and is closely associated with midline shift. It may represent a uniquely useful neuroimaging marker to guide intervention in traumatic brain injury.