New Study Suggests Strategies to Minimize Radiation Exposure in Children with Neck Injuries

Spine Injury

In a significant medical advancement that promises to improve pediatric health care, a study from the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) has resulted in a breakthrough for diagnosing cervical spine injuries (CSI) in children, with the potential to greatly reduce the use of computed tomography (CT) scans. The study, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, included contributions from UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, CA, highlighting their commitment to delivering the highest quality care for pediatric health conditions.

Cervical spine injuries, though rare in children, can lead to severe consequences such as paralysis. Traditional methods of detection have relied on imaging techniques like X-rays and CT scans that expose young patients to radiation, consequently increasing their risk of developing cancer. The study conducted over three years with over 22,000 participants found a way to decrease reliance on CT imaging by more than 50%, as clinicians will now be able to apply a newly developed CSI prediction rule to identify injuries more safely and efficiently.

The prediction rule, which is easy to use and based solely on a child’s symptoms and physical exam findings on arrival to the emergency department, includes nine clinical findings. Of these, four are indicators that a child is “high-risk” for CSI and should be initially screened with a CT scan. This evidence-based protocol aims not only to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure but also to enhance patient safety and the overall quality of emergency care delivered to children.

Source: UC Davis Health

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