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Screening CT angiography for pediatric blunt cerebrovascular injury with emphasis on the cervical "seatbelt sign".

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: There are no standard screening guidelines to evaluate blunt cerebrovascular injury in children. The purpose of this retrospective study was to understand the clinical and radiologic risk factors associated with pediatric blunt cerebrovascular injury on CTA of the neck with primary attention to the cervical "seatbelt sign."

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Radiology reports from 2002 to 2012 were queried for the examination "CTA neck." The electronic medical record was reviewed for mechanism of injury, Glasgow Coma Scale score, and physical examination findings. Radiology reports from adjunct radiographic studies were reviewed. CTA neck examinations with reported blunt cerebrovascular injury were reviewed to confirm imaging findings. Patients with penetrating injury or those without a history of trauma were excluded.

RESULTS: Four hundred sixty-three patients underwent CTA of the neck; 137 had blunt trauma. Forty-two of 85 patients involved in a motor vehicle collision had a cervical seatbelt sign; none had blunt cerebrovascular injury. Nine vessels (4 vertebral arteries, 4 ICAs, 1 common carotid artery) in 8 patients ultimately were diagnosed with various grades (I-IV) of blunt cerebrovascular injury, representing 5.8% (8/137) of the population screened for blunt neck trauma. The mean Glasgow Coma Scale score was significantly lower (P=.02) in the blunt cerebrovascular injury group versus the non-blunt cerebrovascular injury group. Although not statistically significant, patients with blunt cerebrovascular injury had a higher tendency to have additional traumatic injuries, primarily basilar skull fractures (P=.05) and intracranial hemorrhage (P=.13).

CONCLUSIONS: A common indication for neck CTA, the cervical seatbelt sign, was not associated with blunt cerebrovascular injury. With the exception of Glasgow Coma Scale score, no single risk factor was statistically significant in predicting vascular injury in this series.

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