Head CT overuse in children with a mild traumatic brain injury within two Canadian emergency departments

Academic Article


  • Background: The validated Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Network (PECARN) rule helps determine the relevance of a head computerized tomography (CT) for children with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). We sought to estimate the potential overuse of head CT within two Canadian emergency departments (EDs). Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of children seen in 2016 in a paediatric Level I (site 1) and a general Level II (site 2) trauma centre. We reviewed charts to determine the appropriateness of head CT use according to the PECARN rule in a random subset of children presenting with head trauma. Simple descriptive statistics were applied. Results: One thousand five hundred and forty-six eligible patients younger than 17 years consulted during the study period. Of the 203 randomly selected cases per setting, 16 (7.9%) and 24 (12%), respectively from sites 1 and 2 had a head CT performed. Based on the PECARN rule, we estimated the overuse for the younger group (<2 years) to be below 3% for both hospitals without significant difference between them. For the older group (≥2 years), the overuse rate was higher at site 2 (9.3%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.8 to 17% versus 1.2%, 95% CI: 0.2 to 6.5%, P=0.03). Conclusion: Both EDs demonstrated overuse rates below 10% although it was higher for the older group at site 2. Such low rates can potentially be explained by the university affiliation of both hospitals and by two Canadian organizations working to raise awareness among physicians about the overuse of diagnostic tools and dangers inherent to radiation.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gariepy M; Gravel J; Légaré F; Melnick ER; Hess EP; Witteman HO; Lelaidier-Hould L; Truchon C; Sauvé L; Plante P
  • Start Page

  • 26
  • End Page

  • 32
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 1