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CHEO Helps Provide Peace of Mind to Parents of Kids with Head Injuries

OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute led a team of researchers from ten paediatric teaching hospitals across Canada who created a new tool for emergency room doctors to better assess the need for computed tomography scans (CT Scans) in young patients with minor head injury — reducing possible exposure to cancer-causing radiation.

Each year more than 650,000 children across North America are rushed to the emergency room with minor head injuries (those head injuries resulting in loss of consciousness, amnesia, disorientation and/or vomiting). CT scans are important for the diagnosis of serious brain injury in these children but have the drawback of exposing children to significant amounts of ionizing radiation.

“There are currently no widely accepted, evidence-based guidelines and North American physicians are more likely to follow a conservative approach of ordering CT scans for most children with minor head injuries,” said Dr. Martin Osmond, chief executive officer of the CHEO Research Institute and lead researcher on this study. “The CATCH Rule is a ‘master checklist’ that will help physicians decide which child should receive a CT Scan to look for intracranial lesions and which can be safely sent home without imaging.”

The CATCH rule should prove to be an extremely useful tool across North American hospitals, especially since CT scanning rates in children with minor head injury have risen rapidly over the last 10 years and there are growing concerns that exposure to ionizing radiation at an early age may result in a significant rise in lifetime fatal cancer risk.

The study, titled “CATCH: A Clinical Decision Rule for the Use of Computed Tomography in Children with Minor Head Injury”, was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on February 8, 2010.

The CATCH rule was derived in 3,866 Canadian children. Before widespread use it will be prospectively validated in multiple sites by the end of this year.

To read the full study, please visit the CMAJ website.

Additional Media coverage:

View the Canada AM live interview

Read Dr. Osmond's interview with Pauline Tam, from the Ottawa Citizen

Read The Globe & Mail article, on page L4 in the Life section

Read the CBC News article

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