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Ann Emerg Med. 2013 May;61(5):521-7. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.07.016. Epub 2012 Aug 22.

Prediction value of the Canadian CT head rule and the New Orleans criteria for positive head CT scan and acute neurosurgical procedures in minor head trauma: a multicenter external validation study.

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Emergency Department and Research Unit UR06SP21, Fattouma Bourguiba University Hospital, Monastir, Tunisia.



The New Orleans Criteria and the Canadian CT Head Rule have been developed to decrease the number of normal computed tomography (CT) results in mild head injury. We compare the performance of both decision rules for identifying patients with intracranial traumatic lesions and those who require an urgent neurosurgical intervention after mild head injury.


This was an observational cohort study performed between 2008 and 2011 on patients with mild head injury who were aged 10 years or older. We collected prospectively clinical head CT scan findings and outcome. Primary outcome was need for neurosurgical intervention, defined as either death or craniotomy, or the need of intubation within 15 days of the traumatic event. Secondary outcome was the presence of traumatic lesions on head CT scan. New Orleans Criteria and Canadian CT Head Rule decision rules were compared by using sensitivity specifications and positive and negative predictive value.


We enrolled 1,582 patients. Neurosurgical intervention was performed in 34 patients (2.1%) and positive CT findings were demonstrated in 218 patients (13.8%). Sensitivity and specificity for need for neurosurgical intervention were 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] 90% to 100%) and 60% (95% CI 44% to 76%) for the Canadian CT Head Rule and 82% (95% CI 69% to 95%) and 26% (95% CI 24% to 28%) for the New Orleans Criteria. Negative predictive values for the above-mentioned clinical decision rules were 100% and 99% and positive values were 5% and 2%, respectively, for the Canadian CT Head Rule and New Orleans Criteria. Sensitivity and specificity for clinical significant head CT findings were 95% (95% CI 92% to 98%) and 65% (95% CI 62% to 68%) for the Canadian CT Head Rule and 86% (95% CI 81% to 91%) and 28% (95% CI 26% to 30%) for the New Orleans Criteria. A similar trend of results was found in the subgroup of patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15.


For patients with mild head injury, the Canadian CT Head Rule had higher sensitivity than the New Orleans Criteria, with higher negative predictive value. The question of whether the use of the Canadian CT Head Rule would have a greater influence on head CT scan reduction requires confirmation in real clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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