Children in the emergency department (ED) often require sedation for head computed tomography (CT) to ensure adequate image quality. Image acquisition time for a head CT using a conventional single-source CT scanner is approximately 12 seconds; however, after installation in November 2017 of 2 new dual-source dual-energy CT scanners, that time decreased to 1 to 3 seconds. We hypothesized that fewer patients would require sedation using the faster CT scanners.
We conducted a retrospective chart review of patients aged 0 to 18 years undergoing head CT at 2 pediatric EDs within 1 hospital system, 2 years before and 2 years after installation of the faster CT scanner. Patients undergoing multiple CTs or other procedures were excluded. Demographic information, diagnosis, disposition, sedatives (chloral hydrate, dexmedetomidine, etomidate, fentanyl, ketamine, midazolam, methohexital, pentobarbital, and propofol) administered before imaging, and ED length of stay were analyzed.
A total of 15,175 patient encounters met inclusion criteria, 7412 before and 7763 after installation of the new CT. The median age was 7 years and 44% were female. Before the new CT scanner was installed 8% required sedation, compared with 7% after (effect size, 0.0341). Midazolam was the most commonly administered sedative. Fewer patients required deep sedation using the faster CT scanner.
After installation of a dual-source dual-energy CT scanner, fewer patients required sedation to complete head CT in the pediatric ED. Faster image acquisition time decreased the need for deep sedation.