Study objective To improve the efficiency and appropriateness of computed tomography (CT) use in children with minor head trauma, clinical prediction rules were derived and validated by the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN). The objective of this study was to conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing the PECARN traumatic brain injury prediction rules to usual care for selective CT use.
Methods We used decision analytic modeling to project the outcomes, costs, and cost-effectiveness of applying the PECARN rules compared with usual care in a hypothetical cohort of 1,000 children with minor blunt head trauma. Clinical management was directed by level of risk as specified by the presence or absence of variables in the PECARN traumatic brain injury prediction rules. Immediate costs of care (diagnostic testing, treatment [not including clinician time], and hospital stay) were derived on single-center data. Quality-adjusted life-year losses related to the sequelae of clinically important traumatic brain injuries and to radiation-induced cancers, number of CT scans, number of radiation-induced cancers, number of missed clinically important traumatic brain injury, and total costs were evaluated.
Results Compared with the usual care strategy, the PECARN strategy was projected to miss slightly more children with clinically important traumatic brain injuries (0.26 versus 0.02 per 1,000 children) but used fewer cranial CT scans (274 versus 353), resulted in fewer radiation-induced cancers (0.34 versus 0.45), cost less ($904,940 versus $954,420), and had lower net quality-adjusted life-year loss (-4.64 versus -5.79). Because the PECARN strategy was more effective (less quality-adjusted life-year loss) and less costly, it dominated the usual care strategy.
Results were robust under sensitivity analyses.
Conclusion Application of the PECARN traumatic brain injury prediction rules for children with minor head trauma would lead to beneficial outcomes and more cost-effective care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine