JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Radiological and clinical criteria for the management of epidural hematomas in children.

OBJECTIVE: Modern neuroimaging and intensive care permit precise delineation and specific treatment of head injury. Children sustaining cranial trauma associated with epidural hematoma (EDH) represent a heterogeneous group with a variety of clinical outcomes. Treatment consists of simple observation or surgical evacuation. We attempted to define radiological characteristics of the EDH patients that underwent surgical evacuation.

METHODS: We reviewed the records and computed tomography scans of 33 children sustaining cranial trauma associated with EDH treated at the Children's National Medical Center between October 1990 and August 1994. The radiological and clinical characteristics of children treated surgically (n = 13) and nonsurgically (n = 20) were compared.

RESULTS: Mass effect, a temporal clot location, thickness, length and volume of the clot, and midline shift (p < 0.05) differed significantly between groups. The most important radiological parameters in determining the therapeutic intervention were thickness, midline shift, mass effect, and EDH location. A thickness of the EDH > 18 mm, a midline shift >4 mm, and moderate or severe mass effect correctly predicted therapy in 29 out of 33 patients. By adding the location as a fourth parameter, therapy was accuratly predicted in 31 of 33 patients. Mechanism of injury, interval from injury to initial computed tomography scan, age, sex, Glasgow coma score on admission, or lengths of hospital and intensive care unit stays were not significantly different between groups.

CONCLUSION: Although radiological criteria predict surgical intervention for larger EDH, patients harboring intermediate-size EDH will continue to require careful individualized clinical judgement.

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