Serum neuron-specific enolase levels at presentation and long-term neurological sequelae after acute charcoal burning-induced carbon monoxide poisoning

Objective: This study aimed to investigate whether clinical parameters and serum neuron-specific enolase (NSE) levels measured at emergency department (ED) presentation help stratify the risk of acute or delayed persistent severe neurological sequelae after acute carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning induced by charcoal burning.

Methods: This retrospective study included 236 patients who suffered from CO poisoning. Demographic information, serum NSE levels measured in the ED, treatment, clinical course, and long-term neurological outcomes were recorded.

Results: The median serum NSE level at presentation was 15.5 (10.9–22.7) ng/mL. No differences were observed in the duration of CO exposure; the initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score; the levels of arterial HCO3, white blood cells (WBCs), C-reactive protein (CRP) or troponin I; or the frequency of abnormal diffusion-weighted imaging finding at presentation among the groups with different serum NSE levels at presentation. The incidences of acute and delayed persistent neurologic sequelae assessed at 22.3 months after acute charcoal CO poisoning were 5.1% and 8.5%, respectively. No difference in the NSE level was observed between patients stratified according to long-term neurological status. According to the multinomial logistic regression analysis, age, serum CRP levels and the initial GCS score were risk factors for the two types of persistent severe neurological sequelae, whereas troponin I levels were associated only with the acute persistent severe neurological sequelae. However, the adjusted NSE level was not a risk factor for any persistent neurological sequelae.

Conclusions: Serum NSE levels at presentation were not correlated with the risk of acute or delayed persistent neurological sequelae. Further studies with blood sampling at optimal time points and serial measurements should be conducted. Age, initial GCS score, and CRP levels may be risk factors for persistent severe neurological sequelae.