Paediatric coma scales

Kirkham FJ, Newton CR, Whitehouse W
Dev Med Child Neurol. 2008;50

Permenent descriptor

Traumatic and non-traumatic coma is a common problem in paediatric practice with high mortality and morbidity. Early recognition of the potential for catastrophic deterioration in a variety of settings is essential and several coma scales have been developed for recording depth of consciousness that are widely used in clinical practice in adults and children. Prediction of outcome is probably less important, as this may be able to be modified by appropriate emergency treatment, and other clinical and neurophysiological criteria allow a greater degree of precision. The scales should be reliable, i.e. with little variation between observers and in test-retest by one observer, since this promotes confidence in the assessments at different time points and by different examiners. This is particularly important when the patient is being assessed by personnel dealing with adults as well as children, discussed on the telephone, handed over at shift change, or transferred between units or hospitals. The British Paediatric Neurology Association has recommended one of the modified child's Glasgow coma scales (CGCS) for use in the UK. This review looks at the recent history of the development of coma scales and the rationale for recommending the CGCS.