Who Gets CT Scan After Brain Injury?

CT scans less often with minority children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There are documented racial disparities in health care that might extend to treatment of children as well. Pediatric minority patients are less likely to be given a CT scan after minor head trauma.

White children were more likely to receive a cranial CT in the hospital emergency room to check for traumatic brain injury as opposed to black or Hispanic children.

"Ask whether a CT scan is warranted after a head injury."

Dr. Alexander Rogers, a pediatrician who led the study, said that the research demonstrates that among children with minor head trauma with low risk for clinical brain injury, white children more frequently received CT scans than minority children. He said that among this low-risk population that higher rates of cranial CT may represent overuse in white children, leading to increased radiation exposure and health care costs.

Researchers reviewed existing data about children who were treated at one of 25 pediatric trauma centers. Investigators reviewed information about 42,412 children evaluated for head trauma. They then examined CT scan use after the head injury to determine potential for traumatic brain injury.

Of the pediatric patients followed, 94 percent were documented as Hispanic, African-American or white. They reported that 35 percent of the children received a CT scan.

Though there are no significant race or ethnic differences that would label a child as higher risk for a traumatic brain injury, it was discovered that white children at the lowest risk of such an injury were more likely to receive a CT scan.

Dr. Rogers said there likely were many factors for the finding, but stressed the importance of strong evidence-based guidelines to promote equal care.

The research was presented Oct. 14 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

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Review Date: 
October 14, 2011
Last Updated:
October 16, 2011