For Children, CT Scans for Minor Head Trauma May Not Be Necessary



Austin Personal Injury Lawyers

Austin Personal Injury Lawyers - Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 22, 2014 – The latest clinical findings indicate that if a child only sustains a loss of consciousness without any other signs of head trauma, he or she may not need a CT scan.

“Researchers from the UC Davis Health System and Boston Children’s Hospital have released the results of a study involving over 40,000 children who arrived at emergency rooms across the nation. If children only sustained a loss of consciousness, but showed no other head trauma signals, they were not likely to have serious brain injuries. Accordingly, those without other head injury signposts would not, as a matter of routine, need a CT scan,” explained Austin head trauma lawyer, Brooks Schuelke of Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP.

Doctors have traditionally used CT scans as a first line of defense, checking immediately for intercranial bleeding that may need an urgent surgical response. Aside from the expense of a scan, the radiation used during the test has been implicated in carrying a long-term risk of cancer. The report, titled “Isolated Loss of Consciousness in Children with Minor Blunt Head Trauma,” also suggested that CT scans have been used as much as they have due to the fear of missing a significant factor in assessing a brain injury and to the fact CT scanners are plentiful. 

Those factors have led to an increase in scans over the last 20 years. Lead researcher Nathan Kuppermann, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine, is hopeful that the results will allow physicians to first observe their young patients in detail before automatically calling for a scan.
Study results also focused on the importance of minor head trauma in children who did not display other significant signals (as assessed by doctors according to TBI prediction rules). If there was only a loss of consciousness, but no other indicators, there was a very low rate of clinically important brain injuries. Therefore, observation would become a reasonable, safe step before ordering a CT scan.

“This is an important diagnostic study for two reasons,” said Schuelke. “It points out an alternative viable method of ascertaining the severity of a head injury, and it saves the health system money — both positives that every American can appreciate.”

“Having said that, I can understand that parents may still want a CT scan to make sure their children are safe,” added Schuelke. “I’ve been there. A few months ago, I sat in the emergency room with one of my kids worried about a brain injury, and I asked for the CT scan to be done at my own expense to make sure my child didn’t have a brain bleed. So I certainly understand wanting the diagnostics done, regardless of the study.”

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