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Arch Dis Child. 2014 May;99(5):427-31. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-305004. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network head injury clinical prediction rules are reliable in practice.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, , Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



The Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) traumatic brain injury (TBI) age-based clinical prediction rules identify children at very low risk of a significant head injury who can safely avoid CT. Our goal was to independently validate these prediction rules.


Cross-sectional study.


Two paediatric emergency departments located in USA and in Italy.


All children presenting within 24 h of a head injury with a Glasgow Coma Score of ≥14.


Assessment of PECARN TBI clinical predictors.


Clinically important TBI defined as head injury resulting in death, intubation for >24 h, neurosurgery or two or more nights of hospitalisation for the management of head trauma.


During the study period, we included 2439 children (91% of eligible patients), of which 959 (39%) were <2 years of age and 1439 (59%) were male. Of the study patients, 373 (15%) had a CT performed, 69 (3%) had traumatic findings on their CT and 19 (0.8%) had a clinically important TBI. None of the children with a clinically important TBI were classified as very low risk by the PECARN TBI prediction rules (overall sensitivity 100%; 95% CI 83.2% to 100%, specificity 55%, 95% CI 52.5% to 56.6%, and negative predictive value 100%, 95% CI 99.6% to 100%).


In our external validation, the age-based PECARN TBI prediction rules accurately identified children at very low risk for a clinically significant TBI and can be used to assist CT decision making for children with minor blunt head trauma.


Accident & Emergency; Epidemiology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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