AIMS: 1. to investigate diagnostic and prognostic procedures routinely used by international professionals to assess children with disorders of consciousness (DoC); 2. to explore use and availability of internal and national guidelines for pediatric DoC; 3. to identify international differences in diagnostic/prognostic protocols.
METHODS: The International Brain Injury Association DoC Special Interest Group emailed a survey link to 43,469 professionals. The survey included questions on diagnostic/prognostic procedures and guidelines for children with DoC.
RESULTS: Data on 82 respondents [(50% physicians) primarily from Europe (43.9%)and North America (37.8%)] were analyzed. Common diagnostic tools included the Glasgow Coma Scale for clinical assessment (94%), the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised for outcome measurement (57%), and cerebral MRI (94%). Clinical features used most frequently to inform prognosis varied with patient age. Few respondents used national (28%) admission protocols for children with DoC, and most were unaware of published national guidelines for diagnostic (72%) and prognostic (85%) procedures. Compared to North American respondents, more European respondents were physicians and used neurophysiological data for prognosis.
CONCLUSIONS: This international survey provides useful information about diagnostic and prognostic procedures currently used for children with DoC and highlights the need for guidelines to promote best practices for diagnosis/prognosis in pediatric DoC.