Emergency skull radiography: the effect of restrictive criteria on skull radiography and CT use

Radiology. 1985 Aug;156(2):409-13. doi: 10.1148/radiology.156.2.4011903.


A prospective study was performed to determine the effect of restrictive criteria on the use of emergency skull radiography and computed tomography (CT) of the head. Emergency skull radiography required the completion of a special requisition form. Emergency CT of the head was done at the request of senior consultants and was available on a full-time basis. Over 1 year, 2,758 skull studies were performed, a decrease of 39.1% when compared with the year before restrictive criteria were instituted, during which 4,587 skull examinations were done. In the same period, the number of emergency CT scans of the head increased by 45.7%, from 471 in the control year to 686 in the experimental year. With the use of restrictive criteria, a net savings of +164,000 was achieved. Our results suggest that the use of restrictive criteria is a cost-effective means of limiting skull radiography when CT of the head is readily available.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cost Control
  • Emergencies*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Open / diagnostic imaging
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / diagnostic imaging
  • Hematoma, Subdural / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skull Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / economics