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Children don’t always need CT scans after head injury


Period of observation can avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation A recent multifacility study of more than 40,000 children with minor blunt head trauma showed that observing the patients for a period of time reduced the use of the head computed tomography (CT) scans. The study led by Children’s Hospital Boston and UC Davis Health System, says the reduction in CT scan usage does not compromise patient care, but it does reduce children’s exposure to ionizing radiation.

Roughly half of the studied children taken to hospital emergency rooms for head injuries receive a head CT, yet actual Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is uncommon.

According to the assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, who is also a pediatric emergency specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston, said, “Only 2 to 3 percent of children with head trauma really have something serious going on.” She co-authored the study with the professor of pediatrics, who is also the professor and chair of emergency medicine, at UC Davis.

“If you can be watched in the emergency department for a few hours, you may not need a CT.”

A NY Brain Injury Lawyer reveals that cranial CT scans present an additional risk to children with brain injuries. A young child’s growing brain tissue is more sensitive to radiation than a full grown adult’s is. The radiation exposure involved in the scan, opens the risk of a child developing a radiation-induced malignancy over the course of their life.

“There is a clear need to develop appropriate and safe guidelines for decreasing the number of inappropriate head CT scans that we do on children,” said one of the co-authors. “The results of this analysis demonstrate that a period of observation before deciding to use head CT scans on many injured children can spare them from inappropriate radiation when it is not called for, while not increasing the risk of missing important brain injuries.”

A New York Brain Injury Lawyer reading the study said, “It’s not that a CT is bad if you really need it, but you don’t want to use it in children who are at low risk. For parents, this means spending a couple of extra hours in the emergency department in exchange for not getting a CT. It’s the middle-risk group of children – those who aren’t totally normal at the start of the ED visit, but whose injury also isn’t obviously severe – where observation before deciding on a CT can really help.” This procedure is followed in hospitals operating in Long Island and Manhattan.

Implementing the findings of studies like this can lead to better patient care and reduced exposure and future brain damage in children. If you find yourself in the emergency room and experience poor quality care and your child suffers a brain injury because of it, contact the nearest New York Brain Injury Attorney as soon as possible.

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