Role of follow-up CT scans in the management of traumatic pediatric epidural hematomas

D. Clay Samples, Michael T. Bounajem, David J. Wallace, Lillian Liao, Izabela Tarasiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Management of pediatric epidural hematoma (PEDH) ranges from observation to emergent craniotomy. Guidelines for management remain poorly defined. More so, serial CT imaging in the pediatric population is often an area of controversy given the concern for excessive radiation as well as increased costs. This work aims to further elucidate the need for serial imaging to surgical decision-making. Methods: A prospectively maintained single-institution trauma database was reviewed at a level-1 trauma center to identify patients 18 years old and younger presenting with PEDH over a 10-year period. Selected charts were reviewed for demographic information, mechanisms of injury, neurologic exam, radiographic findings, and treatment course. Surgical decisions were at the discretion of the neurosurgeon on call, often in discussion with a pediatric neurosurgeon. Results: Two hundred and ten records with traumatic epidural hematomas were reviewed. Seventy-three (35%) were taken emergently for hematoma evacuation. Of these, 18 (25%) underwent repeat imaging prior to surgery. One hundred and thirty-seven (65%) were admitted for observation. Seventy-two patients (53%) did not undergo repeat imaging. Sixty-five (47%) admitted for conservative management had at least one repeat scan during their hospitalization. Indications for follow-up imaging during conservative management included routine follow-up (74%), initial scan in our system following transfer (17%), neurological decline (8%), and unknown (1%). Thirteen patients (9%) were taken for surgery in a delayed fashion following admission. Twelve patients who went to surgery in a delayed fashion demonstrated progression on follow-up imaging; however, increase in hematoma size on repeat imaging was the sole surgical indication in only four patients (3%). There were no deaths related to the epidural hemorrhage or postoperatively, regardless of management, and all patients recovered to their pre-trauma baseline. Conclusion: Given that isolated hematoma expansion accounted for an exceptionally small proportion of operative indications, this data suggests changes seen on CT should not be solely relied upon to dictate surgical management. The benefit of obtaining follow-up imaging must be strongly considered and weighed against the known deleterious effects of excessive radiation in pediatric patients, let alone its clinical utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2195-2203
Number of pages9
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • EDH
  • Follow-up imaging
  • TBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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