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Controversy affecting evaluation of childhood TBIs

When a young brain is developing, even the slightest injury or exposure to toxins can affect that development. Even though computed tomography scans, commonly known as CT scans, can provide patients and physicians with valuable information, they must be ordered cautiously when young patients are being evaluated. Unnecessary radiation resulting from these scans can ultimately do more harm than good.

However, the calculus that goes into the decision to order a scan or forego it when a child may have suffered a traumatic brain injury is complex. If physicians fail to order scans and are not given access to valuable information, the child may suffer as a result of the undiagnosed injury. On the other hand, if the scan is ordered and is unnecessary, the child could suffer as a result of exposure to the scan's radiation.

A great deal of controversy therefore surrounds the decision to scan or forego scans when it comes to children who may or may not have suffered traumatic brain injuries as motor vehicle passengers, recreational sports players or simply as a result of falls. Thankfully, recently released prediction guidelines may help physicians more accurately determine whether they should scan young accident victims or not.

If your child has been involved in an accident and you are concerned about your physician's decision to scan or forego scanning your child's brain, talk to him or her about what kind of prediction guidelines he or she has employed in making these decisions. This kind of conversation can help you to be a better advocate for your child and to make informed decisions about his or her care.

Source: Contemporary Pediatrics, "Prediction rules help in evaluating head injuries," Karen Rosenberg, Oct. 14, 2014

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