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The Value of Sequential Computed Tomography Scanning in Anticoagulated Patients Suffering From Minor Head Injury

Kaen, Ariel MD; Jimenez-Roldan, Luis MD; Arrese, Ignacio MD; Amosa Delgado, Manuel MD; Lopez, Pedro Gomez MD, PhD; Alday, Rafael MD, PhD; Fernández Alen, José MD, PhD; Lagares, Alfonso MD, PhD; Lobato, Ramiro D. MD, PhD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: April 2010 - Volume 68 - Issue 4 - p 895-898
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181b28a76
Original Article

Background: Since 1999, the Italian guidelines have been used at our department for the management of patients with mild head injury (MHI). According to these guidelines, a computed tomography (CT) scan should be obtained in all patients with coagulopathy and these should routinely undergo strict observation during the first 24 hours after injury; in addition they should have a control CT scan before discharge. With the increased use of anticoagulant therapy in the elderly population, admitting patients in such treatment with a MHI to the emergency rooms has become very common. The aim of our study was to evaluate the need of performing a control CT scan in patients on anticoagulation treatment who showed neither intracranial pathology on the first CT-scan nor neurologic worsening during the observation period.

Methods: We prospectively analyzed the course of all patients on anticoagulation treatment consecutively admitted to our unit between October 2005 and December 2006 who suffered from a MHI and showed a normal initial CT scan. All patients underwent strict observation during the first 24 hours after admission and had a control CT scan performed before discharge.

Results: One hundred thirty-seven patients were included in this study. Only two patients (1.4%) showed hemorrhagic changes. However, neither of them developed concomitant neurologic worsening nor needed admitting or surgery.

Conclusion: According with our data, patients on anticoagulation treatment suffering from MHI could be managed with strict neurologic observation without routinely performing a control CT scan that can be reserved for the rare patients showing new clinical symptoms.

From the Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain.

Submitted for publication December 28, 2008.

Accepted for publication April 15, 2009.

Address for reprints: Ariel Kaen, MD, Servicio de Neurocirugía. Hospital 12 de Octubre, Avda. Córdoba s/n. 28041, Madrid, Spain; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.