In our state-of-the-art review, we summarize the best-available evidence for the optimal emergency department management of children with minor blunt head trauma. Minor blunt head trauma in children is a common reason for emergency department evaluation, although clinically important traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as a result are uncommon. Cranial computed tomography (CT) scanning is the reference standard for the diagnosis of TBIs, although they should be used judiciously because of the risk of lethal malignancy from ionizing radiation exposure, with the greatest risk to the youngest children. Available TBI prediction rules can assist with CT decisionmaking by identifying patients at either low risk for TBI, for whom CT scans may safely be obviated, or at high risk, for whom CT scans may be indicated. For clinical prediction rules to change practice, however, they require active implementation. Observation before CT decision-making in selected patients may further reduce CT rates without missing children with clinically important TBIs. Future work is also needed to incorporate patient and family preferences into these decision-making algorithms when the course of action is not clear.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health