The purpose of this systematic review was to analyze evidence based on existing studies on the ability of initial CT imaging to predict mortality in severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in pediatric patients. An experienced librarian searched for all existing studies based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The studies were screened by two blinded reviewers. Of the 3277 studies included in the search, data on prevalence of imaging findings and mortality rate could only be extracted from 22 studies. A few of those studies had patient-specific data relating specific imaging findings to outcome, allowing the data analysis, calculation of the area under the curve (AUC) and receiver operating characteristic (ROC), and generation of a forest plot for each finding. The data were extracted to calculate the sensitivity (SN), specificity (SP), positive predictive value (PPV), negative predicted value (NPV), AUC, and ROC for extradural hematoma (EDH), subdural hematoma (SDH), traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH), skull fractures, and edema. There were a total of 2219 patients, 747 females and 1461 males. Of the total, 564 patients died and 1651 survived; 293 patients had SDH, 76 had EDH, 347 had tSAH, 244 had skull fractures, and 416 had edema. The studies included had high bias and lower grade of evidence. Out of the different CT scan findings, brain edema had the highest SN, PPV, NPV, and AUC. EDH had the highest SP to predict in-hospital mortality.
Keywords: CT imaging; mortality; pediatric; traumatic brain injuries.