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CT brain interpretation in paediatric trauma
  1. Adam Woods1,2,
  2. Yusra Sheikh3,
  3. Nuala Quinn4,5,
  4. Freya Guinness4,
  5. Aisling Daly6,
  6. Stephen Mullen2,7
  1. 1 Emergency Department, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 Paediatric Emergency Department, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  3. 3 Department of Radiology, Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street, Dublin, Ireland
  4. 4 Department of Emergency Medicine, Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street, Dublin, Ireland
  5. 5 National Office for Trauma Services, Health Service Executive, Dublin, Ireland
  6. 6 Radiology Department, Craigavon Area Hospital, Portadown, UK
  7. 7 Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adam Woods, Emergency Department, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK; adam.woods{at}


The management of head trauma is an essential component of working in Emergency Medicine, be it a paediatric, adult or mixed emergency department. Between 33% and 50% of the 1.4 million people who attend UK emergency departments (ED) annually with a head injury are children. Patient outcomes in this cohort are strongly associated with rapid identification and treatment of intracranial pathology. The management of pathologies such as expanding intracranial haemorrhage and raised intracranial pressure requires urgent medical and neurosurgical treatment. This is facilitated by rapid interpretation of CT brain images in the ED. In this paper, we discuss the approach to interpretation of a CT brain following a traumatic head injury. While this is not a substitute for a formal radiologist report, being able to identify significant abnormalities may help you, as the treating clinician, to identify and manage any acute life threats; engage and potentiate discussion with your neurosurgical team and expedite the potential transfer and treatment of your patient.

  • Emergency Care
  • Neurosurgery
  • Paediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Resuscitation

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  • X @drs_mullen

  • Contributors The concept for this article was developed by AW and SM. Article was primarily written by AW. YS provided and interpreted the CT images. FG and AD contributed to writing. SM and NQ provided review and contributed to writing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer All images presented here are anonymous. Clinical images were taken by patients' consent to use in education and scientific publication when applicable. All scenarios are fictitious for the purposes of teaching and are not based on real patients.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer-reviewed.