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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020 Feb 28. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001958. [Epub ahead of print]

The Utility of Ultrasound in Detecting Skull Fractures After Pediatric Blunt Head Trauma: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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1
From the Department of Emergency Medicine SUNY-Downstate Medical Center and Kings County Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Head trauma is a common reason for evaluation in the emergency department. The evaluation for traumatic brain injury involves computed tomography, exposing children to ionizing radiation. Skull fractures are associated with intracranial bleed. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) can diagnose skull fractures.

OBJECTIVES:

We performed a systematic review/meta-analysis to determine operating characteristics of POCUS skull studies in the diagnosis of fractures in pediatric head trauma patients.

METHODS:

We searched PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science for studies of emergency department pediatric head trauma patients. Quality Assessment Tool for Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2 was used to evaluate risk of bias. Point-of-care ultrasound skull study operating characteristics were calculated and pooled using Meta-DiSc.

RESULTS:

Six studies of 393 patients were selected with a weighted prevalence of 30.84%. Most studies were at low risk of bias. The pooled sensitivity (91%) and specificity (96%) resulted in pooled positive likelihood ratio (14.4) and negative likelihood ratio (0.14). Using the weighted prevalence of skull fractures across the studies as a pretest probability (31%), a positive skull ultrasound would increase the probability to 87%, whereas a negative test would decrease the probability of a skull fracture to 6%. To achieve a posttest probability of a skull fracture of ~2% would require a negative skull ultrasound in a patient with only a pretest probability of ~15%.

CONCLUSIONS:

A POCUS skull study significantly increases the probability of skull fracture, whereas a negative study markedly decreases the probability if the pretest probability is very low.

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