Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Lancet. 1997 Mar 22;349(9055):821-4.

Predictive value of skull radiography for intracranial injury in children with blunt head injury.

Author information

1
Department of Paediatric Surgery, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The value of routine skull radiography as a method of predicting intracranial injury is controversial. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of skull radiography by prospectively studying head-injured children admitted to a children's hospital that serves an urban population.

METHODS:

Over a 2-year period, 9269 children attended our accident and emergency department with head injury, and 6011 were referred for skull radiography. All children who were admitted to hospital or had a skull fracture (n = 883) were included in the study. Computed tomography (CT) was done in children with skull fractures on radiography and in those without fractures if there were neurological indications.

FINDINGS:

Radiographs showed 162 fractures (2.7% of all radiographs and 18% of study group radiographs). Staff in the accident and emergency department missed 37 (23%) fractures. CT scan was done on 156 children, of whom 107 had a skull fracture. 23 children were found to have intracranial injuries on CT. The presence of neurological abnormalities had a sensitivity for identification of intracranial injury of 91% (21 of 23) and a negative predictive value of 97%. The corresponding values for skull fracture on radiography were 65% (15 of 23) and 83%. Four children died, of whom only one had a skull fracture.

INTERPRETATION:

In children, severe intracranial injury can occur in the absence of skull fracture. Skull radiography is not a reliable predictor of intracranial injury and is indicated only to confirm or exclude a suspected depressed fracture or penetrating injury, and when non-accidental injury is suspected, including in all infants younger than 2 years. Clinical neurological abnormalities are a reliable predictor of intracranial injury. If imaging is required, it should be with CT and not skull radiography.

PMID:
9121256
DOI:
10.1016/S0140-6736(96)09356-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center