Ultrasound Evaluation of Skull Fractures in Children A Feasibility Study

Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
Pediatric emergency care (Impact Factor: 1.05). 04/2012; 28(5):420-5. DOI: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318252da3b
Source: PubMed


The objective of this study was to investigate feasibility and evaluate test characteristics of bedside ultrasound for the detection of skull fractures in children with closed head injury (CHI).
This was a prospective, observational study conducted in a pediatric emergency department of an urban tertiary care children's hospital. A convenience sample of children younger than 18 years were enrolled if they presented with an acute CHI, and a computed tomography (CT) scan was performed. Ultrasound was performed by pediatric emergency medicine physicians with at least 1 month of training in bedside ultrasound. Ultrasound interpretation as either positive or negative for the presence of skull fracture was compared with attending radiologist CT scan dictation. Test characteristics (sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values) were calculated.
Forty-six patients were enrolled. The median age was 2 years (range, 2 months to 17 years). Eleven patients (24%) were diagnosed with skull fractures on CT scan. Bedside ultrasound had a sensitivity of 82% (95% confidence interval [CI], 48%-97%), specificity of 94% (95% CI, 79%-99%), positive predictive value of 82% (95% CI, 48%-97%), and negative predictive value of 94% (95% CI, 79%-99%).
Bedside ultrasonography can be used by pediatric emergency medicine physicians to detect skull fractures in children with acute CHI. Larger studies are needed to validate these findings. Future studies should investigate the role of this modality as an adjunct to clinical decision rules to reduce unnecessary CT scans in the evaluation of acute CHI in children.

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Available from: Antonio Riera, Sep 10, 2014
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    • "The second general area of investigation would include both assessment of the potential clinical uses already mentioned, and perhaps study of other areas for which TEMS US could be useful. These additional areas, including for instance skull fracture diagnosis [44, 45] and guidance of prehospital nerve blocks [46, 47], may have limited application in tactical medicine, but they appear worth consideration. Furthermore, it is likely that as TEMS operators begin to use US more, further unforeseen indications and applications may be identified (as occurred when US was introduced into the ED setting). "
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    ABSTRACT: The term "tactical medicine" can be defined in more than one way, but in the nonmilitary setting the term tactical emergency medical services (TEMS) is often used to denote medical support operations for law enforcement. In supporting operations involving groups such as special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams, TEMS entail executing triage, diagnosis, stabilization, and evacuation decision-making in challenging settings. Ultrasound, now well entrenched as a part of trauma evaluation in the hospital setting, has been investigated in the prehospital arena and may have utility in TEMS. This paper addresses potential use of US in the tactical environment, with emphasis on the lessons of recent years' literature. Possible uses of US are discussed, in terms of both specific clinical applications and also with respect to informing triage and related decision making.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To determine the test performance characteristics for point-of-care ultrasound performed by clinicians compared with computed tomography (CT) diagnosis of skull fractures. Methods: We conducted a prospective study in a convenience sample of patients ≤21 years of age who presented to the emergency department with head injuries or suspected skull fractures that required CT scan evaluation. After a 1-hour, focused ultrasound training session, clinicians performed ultrasound examinations to evaluate patients for skull fractures. CT scan interpretations by attending radiologists were the reference standard for this study. Point-of-care ultrasound scans were reviewed by an experienced sonologist to evaluate interobserver agreement. Results: Point-of-care ultrasound was performed by 17 clinicians in 69 subjects with suspected skull fractures. The patients' mean age was 6.4 years (SD: 6.2 years), and 65% of patients were male. The prevalence of fracture was 12% (n = 8). Point-of-care ultrasound for skull fracture had a sensitivity of 88% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 53%-98%), a specificity of 97% (95% CI: 89%-99%), a positive likelihood ratio of 27 (95% CI: 7-107), and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.13 (95% CI: 0.02-0.81). The only false-negative ultrasound scan was due to a skull fracture not directly under a scalp hematoma, but rather adjacent to it. The κ for interobserver agreement was 0.86 (95% CI: 0.67-1.0). Conclusions: Clinicians with focused ultrasound training were able to diagnose skull fractures in children with high specificity.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · PEDIATRICS
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    ABSTRACT: Bedside ultrasound (US) was introduced to the emergency department more than 20 years ago. Since this time, many new applications have evolved to aid the emergency physician in diagnostic, procedural, and therapeutic interventions and the scope of bedside ultrasound continues to grow. Many US scanning techniques easily translate from adult applications to the pediatric population. Consequently, US has been adopted by many pediatric emergency providers. This article reviews the use of bedside ultrasound in pediatric emergency medicine.
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