Trends in Head Computed Tomography Utilization in Children Presenting to Emergency Departments After Traumatic Head Injury.
OBJECTIVES: Although closed head injuries occur commonly in children, most do not have a clinically important traumatic brain injury (ciTBI) and do not require neuroimaging. We sought to determine whether the utilization of computed tomography of the head (CT-H) in children presenting to an emergency department (ED) with a closed head injury changed after publication of validated clinical prediction rules to identify children at risk of ciTBI by the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN). METHODS: We used the nationwide ED sample (2008-2013) to examine children visiting an ED after a mild closed head injury. Multiple patient and hospital characteristics were assessed. RESULTS: Of the 4,552,071 children presenting to an ED with a mild closed head injury, 1,181,659 (26.0%) underwent CT-H. Care was most commonly received at metropolitan teaching hospitals (43.5%) and varied markedly by geographic region. Overall, there were no significant changes in the nationwide rates of CT-H utilization in the period immediately after publication of the PECARN prediction rules. However, compared with metropolitan teaching hospitals, CT-H utilization increased significantly for patients treated at nonteaching hospitals and at nonmetropolitan hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: There was no overall reduction in CT-H utilization after publication of the 2009 PECARN prediction rules. However, patients treated at metropolitan teaching hospitals were significantly less likely to undergo CT-H after 2009, suggesting some penetration of the PECARN tool in that setting. Further research should study patterns of CT-H utilization in nonteaching hospitals and nonmetropolitan hospitals to assess challenges for adoption of validated pediatric ciTBI prediction rules.
Ukwuoma, OI; Allareddy, V; Allareddy, V; Rampa, S; Rose, JA; Shein, SL; Rotta, AT
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