Unnecessary imaging: Emergency CT for head trauma is overused

Too many patients in emergency departments (EDs) are undergoing head CT to check for possible skull fractures or brain hemorrhage, according to a new study to be presented at the ARRS 2018 Annual Meeting April 22-27 in Washington, D.C.

The authors of the study, including Michaela Cellina of the radiology department of Fatebenefratelli-Sacco Hospital in Milan, researched head CT scans for minor head injury performed on ED patients between the ages of 18 and 45 at their hospital from January 2016 to July 2016, according to an ARRS press release.

Overall, more than 52 percent of emergency head CT exams for trauma did not meet criteria indicated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). More than 76 percent did not meet criteria indicated by the Canadian CT Head Rule (CCHR).

Cellina and colleagues found that motor vehicle accidents were associated with a higher rate of non-indicated CT exams for both NICE and CCHR. Two-wheel vehicle driver accidents, on the other hand, were associated with a higher rate of appropriate exams for both NICE and CCHR.

The ARRS release added that the overuse of emergency CT exams is leading to “unnecessary health care costs and patient exposure to radiation.”