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When a child should get a CT scan after a head injury

Any time a child is involved in a serious car accident, his or her parents often worry sick over the internal injuries the child may have endured. This is especially true if the child suffered a head injury in the accident.

Thanks to technology, it's possible to check the brain for damage using computed tomography, or CT. A CT scan can reveal if damage was done to the brain and surgery is necessary, or allow parents to rest assured knowing that their child's brain was unharmed.

However, medical experts believe that CT has risks in children, particularly cancer caused by radiation. For that reason, researchers set out to create guidelines to help determine when the benefits of the test outweigh the risks in a child who may have suffered blunt head trauma (BHT).

For children who demonstrate obvious signs of BHT, the researchers said that it is widely accepted that a CT scan is usually necessary. But for children with few or less obvious signs of BHT it can be harder to determine if the scan should be ordered notwithstanding the risks.

The researchers were able to use scientific data to create a rule for when a CT test is warranted. The lead researcher said that the recommendations can help doctors with the "decision-making process and decrease diagnostic, therapeutic, and medicolegal uncertainties."

When a child is seriously injured in a car accident, extensive and extremely costly medical treatment can be required. When the accident was the result of carelessness on behalf of another driver, the child's parents may be entitled to damages to help pay for their child's treatment and recovery.

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

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