Outcome Prediction in Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome and Minimally Conscious State by Non-linear Dynamic Analysis of the EEG

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Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the role of non-linear dynamic analysis (NDA) of the electroencephalogram (EEG) in predicting patient outcome in unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) and minimally conscious state (MCS).

Methods: This was a prospective longitudinal cohort study. A total of 98 and 64 UWS and MCS cases, respectively, were assessed. During admission, EEGs were acquired under eyes-closed and pain stimulation conditions. EEG nonlinear indices, including approximate entropy (ApEn) and cross-ApEn, were calculated. The modified Glasgow Outcome Scale (mGOS) was employed to assess functional prognosis 1 year following brain injury.

Results: The mGOS scores were improved in 25 (26%) patients with UWS and 42 (66%) with MCS. Under the painful stimulation condition, both non-linear indices were lower in patients with UWS than in those with MCS. The frontal region, periphery of the primary sensory area (S1), and forebrain structure might be the key points modulating disorders of consciousness. The affected local cortical networks connected to S1 and unaffected distant cortical networks connecting S1 to the prefrontal area played important roles in mGOS score improvement.

Conclusions: NDA provides an objective assessment of cortical excitability and interconnections of residual cortical functional islands. The impaired interconnection of the residual cortical functional island meant a poorer prognosis. The activation in the affected periphery of the S1 and the increase in the interconnection of affected local cortical areas around the S1 and unaffected S1 to the prefrontal and temporal areas meant a relatively favorable prognosis.

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