David J Lin, Fred C Lam, Jeffrey J Siracuse, Ajith Thomas, Ekkehard M Kasper

Surgical Neurology International 2012 3(1):98-98

Background: Review of intracranial gunshot wounds (GSWs) undergoing emergent neurosurgical intervention despite a very low Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score on admission in order to identify predictors of good outcome, with correlates to recent literature. Methods: A retrospective review of select cases of GSWs presenting to our trauma center over the past 5 years with poor GCS requiring emergent neurosurgical intervention and a minimum of 1-year follow-up. Results: Out of a total of 17 patients who went to the operating room (OR) for GSW to the head during this period, 4 cases with a GCS < 5 on admission were identified. All cases required a hemicraniectomy to alleviate cerebral swelling. Two cases presented with a unilaterally blown pupil due to raised intracranial pressure. The remaining 2 cases had equal and reactive pupils. One patient with a GCS of 3 and a significant bilateral pattern of parenchymal bullet injury was initially assessed in moribund status but rallied and received a delayed hemicraniectomy on day 7. Three out of 4 patients are functionally independent at 1-year follow-up. The fourth patient who received a delayed decompression remains wheelchair dependent. Conclusion: Victims of GSWs can have good outcomes despite having a very poor admission GCS score and papillary abnormalities. Factors predicting good outcomes include the following: time from injury to surgical intervention of < 1 h; injury to noneloquent brain; and absence of injury to midbrain, brainstem, and major vessels.