Purpose The aims of this study were to evaluate the trend in the utilization of CT for adolescents admitted to an adult level I trauma center and to compare the utilization pattern between adolescents and adults during the past 11 years. Methods Trauma registry data (1996-2006) from an adult level I trauma center were used. Patients aged <13 years were eligible to be admitted to this hospital. From this trauma registry, the following variables were extracted: age; sex; ethnicity; insurance status; mechanism of injury; injury severity score; length of hospital and intensive care unit stay; International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), codes; and patient disposition. Patients were categorized on the basis of their age in the following groups: 13 to 18, 19 to 55, and <56 years. ICD-9 procedure codes were used to create new variables that were reflective of the frequency of use of head CT (ICD-9 code 87.03), abdominal CT (ICD-9 code 88.01), thoracic CT (ICD-9 code 87.41), and other CT studies, including CT of the extremities and spine (ICD-9 code 88.38). Results All age groups experienced substantial increases in the utilization of CT, and there were minimal differences in crude utilization rates among different age categories. After adjustment for potential confounders, adolescents had a slightly higher chance of being evaluated by head CT (incident risk ratio [IRR], 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-1.22) and a significantly lower chance of undergoing thoracic CT (IRR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.48-0.61) in comparison with adults aged 19 to 55 years. Among adolescents, the chance of undergoing head CT was significantly higher in 2006 relative to 1996 (IRR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.20-1.86). However, there was no linear increase in utilization pattern from 1996 to 2006. Abdominal CT demonstrated a similar pattern. Thoracic CT and other CT studies demonstrated the most drastic increases in utilization pattern among adolescents. The IRR for the use of thoracic CT increased from 1.15 (95% CI, 0.26-5.20) in 1997 (relative to 1996) to 10.53 (95% CI, 3.24-34.26) in 2006. The IRRs for other CT studies in 2005 and 2006, relative to 1996, were 7.24 and 6.91, respectively. Conclusions Treatment of adolescents in adult level I trauma centers is challenging. Trauma centers should adopt strategies that could potentially decrease unnecessary utilization, especially among adolescents. To do this, these facilities should be familiar with patient-related and system-related characteristics that might influence overutilization. Furthermore, physicians in adult trauma centers should be reeducated with regard to potential hazardous consequences of CT for adolescents.
- computed tomography
- level 1 trauma center
- Trend analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging