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J Neuroradiol. 2004 Sep;31(4):272-80.

[Pediatric neuroimaging emergencies].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Service de Radiologie, Hôpital St Vincent de Paul, 82 avenue Denfert Rochereau, 75674 Paris Cedex 14, France.


The notion of emergency with regards to pediatric neuroimaging requires a strong knowledge of clinical indications. In children under 2 years of age, head trauma requires a CT scan in case of repeated or prolonged or rapidly increasing vomiting, focal signs, loss of consciousness, unusual behavior, seizures, clinical signs of skull fracture or polytrauma. The "shaken baby syndrome" is usually suspected in case of loss of consciousness or seizures before 8 months of age. The hematomas that are observed are subdural in location, diffuse and deeply located. Imaging is only mandatory for headache suggesting underlying space occupying lesion: permanent or increasing pain, nocturnal headache, headache during postural changes or efforts, associated to seizures or abnormal neurological examination. No imaging is indicated in case of first epileptic seizure associated to normal neurological examination and without any particular context. The presence of trauma, intracranial hypertension, persisting disturbances of consciousness or associated focal sign necessitates urgent neuroimaging. No imaging is indicated in case of typical febrile seizures, i.e. generalized, brief and occurring between 1 and 5 years of age. Spinal cord symptoms require immediate MRI evaluation. The most frequent tumor is neuroblastoma. In the absence of spinal tumor, brain abnormalities must be excluded (inflammatory disease). In neonates, CT scan or MRI must be readily performed in case of seizures or loss of consciousness to exclude ischemic, traumatic or infectious lesions.

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