Multi-centre study found that strict adherence to guidelines led to computed tomography scans being overused in children with minor head injuries

Nicky Niele, Marlies A. van Houten, Bart Boersma, Maarten H. Biezeveld, Matthijs Douma, Katja Heitink, Gavin W. ten Tusscher, Ellen Tromp, Johannes B. van Goudoever, Frans B. Plötz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: Our primary aim was to calculate the head computed tomography (CT) scan rate in children with a minor head injury (MHI) when the Dutch National guidelines were followed in clinical practice. The secondary aim was to determine the incidence of CT abnormalities and the guideline predictors associated with traumatic abnormalities. Methods: We performed a multi-centre, prospective observational cross-sectional study in the emergency departments of six hospitals in The Netherlands between 1 April 2015 and 31 December 2016. Results: Data on 1002 patients were studied and 69% of cases complied with the guidelines. The overall CT rate was 44% and the incidence of traumatic abnormal CT findings was 13%. CT scans were performed in 19% of children under two years of age, 48% of children between two and five years and 63% of children aged six years or more. Multivariate regression analysis for all age categories showed that CT abnormalities were predicted by a Glasgow Coma Scale of less than 15, suspicion of a basal skull fracture, vomiting and scalp haematomas or external lesions of the skull. Conclusion: Strict adherence to the Dutch national guidelines resulted in CT overuse. New guidelines are needed to safely reduce CT scan indications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1695-1703
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Cite this