Head trauma is a frequent indication for cranial imaging in children. CT is considered the first line of study for suspected intracranial injury because of its wide availability and rapid detection of acute hemorrhage. However, the majority of childhood head injuries occur without neurologic complications, and particular consideration should be given to the greater risks of ionizing radiation in young patients in the decision to use CT for those with mild head trauma. MRI can detect traumatic complications without radiation, but often requires sedation in children, owing to the examination length and motion sensitivity, which limits rapid assessment and exposes the patient to potential anesthesia risks. MRI may be helpful in patients with suspected nonaccidental trauma, with which axonal shear injury and ischemia are more common and documentation is critical, as well as in those whose clinical status is discordant with CT findings. Advanced techniques, such as diffusion tensor imaging, may identify changes occult by standard imaging, but data are currently insufficient to support routine clinical use. The ACR Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed every 3 years by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and review include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer-reviewed journals and the application of a well-established consensus methodology (modified Delphi) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures by the panel. In those instances in which evidence is lacking or not definitive, expert opinion may be used to recommend imaging or treatment.
Keywords: Appropriateness criteria; CT; MRI; head trauma; nonaccidental injury; pediatric.
Copyright © 2014 American College of Radiology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.