Background: The inter- and intrarater variability of conventional computed tomography (CT) classification systems for evaluating the extent of ischemic-edematous insult following traumatic brain injury (TBI) may hinder the robustness of TBI prognostic models. Objective: This study aimed to employ fully automated quantitative densitometric CT parameters and a cutting-edge machine learning algorithm to construct a robust prognostic model for pediatric TBI. Methods: Fifty-eight pediatric patients with TBI who underwent brain CT were retrospectively analyzed. Intracranial densitometric information was derived from the supratentorial region as a distribution representing the proportion of Hounsfield units. Furthermore, a machine learning-based prognostic model based on gradient boosting (i.e., CatBoost) was constructed with leave-one-out cross-validation. At discharge, the outcome was assessed dichotomously with the Glasgow Outcome Scale (favorability: 1–3 vs. 4–5). In-hospital mortality, length of stay (>1 week), and need for surgery were further evaluated as alternative TBI outcome measures. Results: Densitometric parameters indicating reduced brain density due to subtle global ischemic changes were significantly different among the TBI outcome groups, except for need for surgery. The skewed intracranial densitometry of the unfavorable outcome became more distinguishable in the follow-up CT within 48 h. The prognostic model augmented by intracranial densitometric information achieved adequate AUCs for various outcome measures [favorability = 0.83 (95% CI: 0.72–0.94), in-hospital mortality = 0.91 (95% CI: 0.82–1.00), length of stay = 0.83 (95% CI: 0.72–0.94), and need for surgery = 0.71 (95% CI: 0.56–0.86)], and this model showed enhanced performance compared to the conventional CRASH-CT model. Conclusion: Densitometric parameters indicative of global ischemic changes during the acute phase of TBI are predictive of a worse outcome in pediatric patients. The robustness and predictive capacity of conventional TBI prognostic models might be significantly enhanced by incorporating densitometric parameters and machine learning techniques.
- computed tomography
- densitometric analysis
- machine learning
- pediatric traumatic brain injury
- prognostic modeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health