Feasibility of "rapid" magnetic resonance imaging in pediatric acute head injury

Am J Emerg Med. 2015 Jul;33(7):887-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2015.03.052. Epub 2015 Mar 25.


Objective: The objective was to determine the feasibility of "rapid" magnetic resonance imaging (rMRI) versus noncontrast computed tomography (NCCT) for pediatric patients with possible traumatic brain injury and to compare the populations receiving imaging in an urban tertiary care emergency department ED.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the electronic medical records of ED patients younger than 19 years with possible traumatic brain injury over 4 years who received an rMRI and then age-matched with NCCT patients. Data collection and analysis included demographic and clinical variables, ED length of stay (LOS), and follow-up outcomes.

Results: The final cohort had 45 rMRIs and 45 NCCTs. The mean age was 2.7 years, 63% were male, and 65% sustained a fall. Age, sex, and injury mechanism were similar. Time parameters were longer for rMRI patients: ED arrival to completion of imaging (172 vs 93 minutes, P < .001) and ED LOS (266 vs 225 minutes, P = .008). The NCCT group had higher-acuity patients with higher pediatric intensive care unit admission rates (33% vs 7%, P = .002). No patients returned to the ED within 72 hours. Follow-up was available on 78% patients. No clinically significant intracranial injuries were missed.

Conclusions: Rapid MRI may be a viable imaging modality for moderate-risk pediatric head injury. Although rMRI took longer to obtain during this pilot study, scan time was only 3 to 4 minutes; and LOS was only 41 minutes longer. Further integration of rMRI in patient care should decrease time variation. Future study of rMRI reliability and satisfaction is needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*