Hyperglycemia can indicate traumatic brain injury

Patient with Walker

The release of stress hormones (such as cortisol or norepinephrine) after a traumatic injury can induce stress hyperglycemia. Past research has shown that this state of elevated glucose has been related to increased medical complications and mortality rates.

A recent study from New York verified that serum glucose levels were useful in distinguishing major from minor traumatic injury at admission. Stress hyperglycemia was a sensitive predictor for major injury (just as sensitive as base deficit or lactate), suggesting that appropriate treatment could be administered earlier. In the early stages of traumatic brain injury, when complications such as secondary brain injury can quickly lead to further damage or death, a reliable diagnosis is critical. Glucose level is a potentially sensitive indicator of major injury that should be considered at admission.

Paladino L, Subramanian RA, Nabors S, Bhadwaj S, & Sinert R. Triage hyperglycemia as a prognostic indicator of major trauma. The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. (April 2010).