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J Trauma. 2011 Jul;71(1):245-51. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31820d090f.

Clinical decision rules for adults with minor head injury: a systematic review.

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School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK.



There are many clinical decision rules for adults with minor head injury, but it is unclear how they compare in terms of diagnostic accuracy. This study aimed to systematically identify clinical decision rules for adults with minor head injury and compare the estimated diagnostic accuracies for any intracranial injury and injury requiring neurosurgical intervention.


Several electronic bibliographic databases covering biomedical, scientific, and gray literature were searched from inception to March 2010. At least two independent reviewers determined the eligibility of cohort studies that described a clinical decision rule to identify adults with minor head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score, 13-15) at risk of intracranial injury or injury requiring neurosurgical intervention.


Twenty-two relevant studies were identified. Differences existed in patient selection, outcome definition, and reference standards used. Nine rules stratified patients into high- and moderate-risk categories (to identify neurosurgical or nonsurgical intracranial lesions). The Canadian Computed Tomography Head Rule (CCHR) high-risk criteria have sensitivity of 99% to 100% with specificity of 48% to 77% for injury requiring neurosurgical intervention. Other rules such as New Orleans criteria, National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study II, Neurotraumatology Committee of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies, Scandinavian, and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network produce similar sensitivities for injury requiring neurosurgical intervention but with lower and more variable specificity values.


The most widely researched decision rule is the CCHR, which has consistently shown high sensitivity for identifying injury requiring neurosurgical intervention with an acceptable specificity to allow considered use of cranial computed tomography. No other decision rule has been as widely validated or demonstrated as acceptable results, but its exclusion criteria make it difficult to apply universally.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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