Pediatric patients with traumatic epidural hematoma at low risk for deterioration and need for surgical treatment

J Pediatr Surg. 2017 Feb;52(2):334-339. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Background: Although some pediatric patients with small traumatic epidural hematoma (EDH) are observed without surgical drainage, clinical practice remains variable.

Objectives: Create a prediction rule to identify patients with EDH unlikely to fail hospital observation.

Methods: Retrospective review at a level I pediatric trauma center between 2003 and 2014. Presenting clinical and radiographic features were compared between those successfully to failed observation.

Results: Two hundred twenty-two patients with EDH whose initial management strategy was observation were analyzed; 196 (88%) were successfully observed. The group failing observation was more likely to present with altered mental status (RR 18.8; 95% CI 8.7-49.6), has larger median bleed thickness (observed = 5.6mm versus failed observation = 10.9mm, p<0.01), median bleed volume (observed = 2.1ml versus failed observation = 15.7ml, p<0.01), and mass effect (RR 3.7; 95% CI 1.8-7.7). No mass effect, EDH volume<15ml, and no neurologic deficits predicted patients at low risk of failing observation with a positive predictive value of 98% (95% CI 93-99%). There was no difference in median discharge Glasgow outcome scores (5 in both groups, p=0.20).

Conclusion: Patients with no mass effect and EDH volume <15ml on initial CT scan and no neurologic deficit are at low risk of failing observation.

Level of evidence: Retrospective cohort level I.

Keywords: Epidural hematoma; Head injury; Observation; Pediatric; Trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / diagnosis*
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / surgery
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Watchful Waiting*