Introduction: Paediatric minor head injuries (MHI) are just as common in both bigger and smaller towns in Malaysia. Urban-based MHI are due more to motor vehicular injuries compared to rural-based MHI which are mainly due to non-motor vehicular injuries. The main objectives of this study were to compare incidence of admitted patients to accident and emergency departments of hospitals in two different settings in Malaysia, namely: Ipoh (urban-based) and Kota Bharu (rural-based); and to correlate to demographical characteristics, types of accident, clinical signs and symptoms, radiological and computed tomography (CT) findings, management; and finally, to determine clinical predictors of intracranial injury in MHI.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 153 paediatric patients aged 2-18 years who were admitted to the Ipoh Hospital, Perak and 112 patients of the same age group admitted to Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan were included in this study. The study period was between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2001. Data collection was done prospectively. Chi-square and independent t-tests were applied to compare characteristics of patients admitted to these two hospitals. Backward stepwise multiple logistic regression was applied to determine clinical predictors of intracranial injury.
Results: There were significant differences of age, race, types of accidents, clinical signs and symptoms, Glasgow coma scale (GCS), skull fracture and CT findings between two hospitals. Significant clinical predictors were headache (OR 20.8, 95 percent CI 3.9-25.2, p-value is less than 0.001), unequal pupils (OR 8.4, 95 percent CI 4.3-17.9, p-value is equal to 0.0413) and GCS score of 13 (OR =3.8, 95 percent CI 1.9-6.8, p-value is equal to 0.005). Skull fractures and intracranial injuries were more common in Kota Bharu due to children riding motorcycles without helmets than in Ipoh (p-value is less than 0.001).
Conclusion: In the rural Malaysian community, both the police and physicians must be alerted to the fact that unhelmeted children riding motorcycles are more likely to sustain morbidity than those in urban areas. More aggressive traffic policing of the village roads should be done by the relevant authorities.