Article Abstract

Clinical presentation and epidemiology of brain tumors firstly diagnosed in adults in the Emergency Department: a ten-year, single center retrospective study

Authors: Ivan Comelli, Giuseppe Lippi, Valentina Campana, Franco Servadei, Gianfranco Cervellin


Background: Several patients with new onset brain tumors present to the Emergency Department (ED) complaining for new symptoms. Although information exists on symptom prevalence in the entire population of patients with brain tumors, little is known about the clinical presentation in ED. This retrospective study was planned to investigate clinical presentation and epidemiology of brain tumors firstly diagnosed in a large urban ED throughout a 10-year period.
Methods: All medical records of patients aged ≥18 years, discharged from our ED with a diagnosis of brain tumor were retrieved from the electronic hospital database during a 10-year period (2006 to 2015). The records were reassessed for selecting only brain tumors firstly diagnosed in the ED. The symptoms at presentation were divided in six categories: (I) headache; (II) seizures; (III) focal signs; (IV) altered mental status; (V) nausea/vomiting/dizziness; (VI) trauma. For all cases, the hospital record was retrieved, to obtain histologic classification of tumors. Patients with inflammatory neoformations were excluded from the study.
Results: Overall, 205 patients with firstly diagnosed brain tumor were identified among 870,135 ED visits (i.e., <1%). Glial tumors were the most frequent (50% of the entire sample). No significant differences were found between mean age of patients in the different histologically based groups (meningiomas 66±14; glioblastomas 65±16 years; metastases 66±13 years; other miscellaneous 66±19 years). Focal signs accounted for more than 50% of all presentation signs/symptoms.
Conclusions: First presentation of brain tumor in the ED is not a rare occurrence, so that the emergency physicians should be aware of this possibility.