Blunt Versus Penetrating Violent Traumatic Brain Injury Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To compare types and frequency of medical complications and comorbidities associated with violence-related penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) as compared to violence-related blunt TBI. METHOD: Data were collected prospectively at four medical centers participating in the TBI Model Systems (TBIMS) of Care project. A total of 317 individuals met the inclusion criteria for the TBIMS (i.e., showed evidence of a TBI, were age 16 or older, presented to the TBIMS emergency department within 24 hours of injury, and received acute and rehabilitation services within the model system). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Frequency of medical complications and comorbid diseases. RESULTS: Patients with penetrating injuries suffered significantly higher rates of respiratory failure (P =.004), pneumonitis/pneumonia, (P =.002), skull fracture (P =.001), cerebrospinal fluid leak (P =.0005), and hypotonia (P =.001) than did patients with blunt injuries. Prediction of complications and comorbidities via multiple regression revealed that a penetrating violent injury and the severity of injury were independent predictors of a higher rate of medical complications, whereas age and gender did not account for unique variance in the equation. CONCLUSIONS: Penetrating injuries are associated with higher rates of certain medical complications, especially to the pulmonary and central nervous systems. Acute care physicians and physiatrists must be prepared to treat these complications more often in patients with penetrating injuries.


  • Black, Kertia L
  • Hanks, Robin A
  • Wood, Deborah L
  • Zafonte, Ross D
  • Cullen, Nora
  • Cifu, David X
  • Englander, Jeffrey
  • Francisco, Gerard E

publication date

  • December 2002