Predicting outcome after traumatic brain injury: development and international validation of prognostic scores based on admission characteristics

Ewout W Steyerberg, Nino Mushkudiani, Pablo Perel, Isabella Butcher, Juan Lu, Gillian McHugh, Gordon D Murray, Anthony Marmarou, Ian Roberts, J Dik F Habbema, Andrew I R Maas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability. A reliable prediction of outcome on admission is of great clinical relevance. We aimed to develop prognostic models with readily available traditional and novel predictors.

Methods and Findings

Prospectively collected individual patient data were analyzed from 11 studies. We considered predictors available at admission in logistic regression models to predict mortality and unfavorable outcome according to the Glasgow Outcome Scale at 6 mo after injury. Prognostic models were developed in 8,509 patients with severe or moderate TBI, with cross-validation by omission of each of the 11 studies in turn. External validation was on 6,681 patients from the recent Medical Research Council Corticosteroid Randomisation after Significant Head Injury (MRC CRASH) trial. We found that the strongest predictors of outcome were age, motor score, pupillary reactivity, and CT characteristics, including the presence of traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage. A prognostic model that combined age, motor score, and pupillary reactivity had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) between 0.66 and 0.84 at cross-validation. This performance could be improved (AUC increased by approximately 0.05) by considering CT characteristics, secondary insults (hypotension and hypoxia), and laboratory parameters (glucose and hemoglobin). External validation confirmed that the discriminative ability of the model was adequate (AUC 0.80). Outcomes were systematically worse than predicted, but less so in 1,588 patients who were from high-income countries in the CRASH trial.


Prognostic models using baseline characteristics provide adequate discrimination between patients with good and poor 6 mo outcomes after TBI, especially if CT and laboratory findings are considered in addition to traditional predictors. The model predictions may support clinical practice and research, including the design and analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere165
Pages (from-to)1251-1261
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


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