Investigating head injury (summary)

Dr Derek Smith et al.

Investigating head injury is frequently required because head injury is common: in the US there are 1.3 million traumatic brain injuries per year 1. Causes include falls (children and the elderly), motor vehicle accidents (adults) 1, or direct trauma from an object, assault or inflicted injuries (paediatric patients).

Reference article

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  • questions
    • what was the mechanism of injury?
    • what was the GCS and what is it now?
    • has the patient been unconscious?
    • is the patient protecting their airway?
    • is the patient safe to leave their current environment?
  • investigations
    • CT head
      • most useful investigation
      • non-contrast examination from vertex to palate
      • usually performed as a volume allowing reconstruction
      • particularly useful for haemorrhage and fractures
    • MRI
      • occasionally used
      • useful in patients who are not waking up
  • making the request
    • does a CT need to be done?
      • NICE guidance, Canadian CT head rules
    • does it need to be done urgently?
      • why?
    • is the patient safe to come to CT?
  • common pathology
Medical student radiology curriculum
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rID: 35539
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Cases and Figures

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    Case 1: self-inflicted cranial gunshot wound
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    Case 2: extradural haemorrhage
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    Case 3: subdural haematoma - with drainage
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