Screening for blunt cerebrovascular injuries in pediatric trauma patients

Michael U. Mallicote, Mubina A. Isani, Jamie Golden, Henri R. Ford, Jeffrey S. Upperman, Christopher P. Gayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Adult imaging for blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVI) is based on the Denver and Memphis screening criteria where CT angiogram (CTA) is performed for any one of the criteria being positive. These guidelines have been extrapolated to the pediatric population. We hypothesize that the current adult criteria applied to pediatrics lead to unnecessary CTA in pediatric trauma patients. Study design: At our center, a 9-year retrospective study revealed that strict adherence to the Denver and Memphis criteria would have resulted in 332 unnecessary CTAs out of 2795 trauma patients with only 0.3% positive for BCVI. We also conducted a retrospective chart review of 776,355 pediatric trauma patients in the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) from 2007 to 2014. Data collection included children between ages 0 and 18, ICD-9 search for blunt cerebrovascular injury, and ICD-9 codes that applied to both Denver and Memphis criteria. Results: Of 776,355 pediatric trauma activations, 81,294 pediatric patients in the NTDB fit the Denver/Memphis criteria for screening CTA neck or angiography based on ICD-9 codes, while only 2136 patients suffered BCVI. Strict utilization of the Denver/Memphis criteria would have led to a negative CTA in 79,158 (97.4%) patients. Multivariate regression analysis indicates that patients with skull base fracture, cervical spine fractures, cervical spine fracture with cervical cord injury, traumatic jugular venous injury, and cranial nerve injury should be considered part of the screening criteria for BCVI. Conclusion: Our study suggests the Denver and Memphis criteria are inadequate screening criteria for CTA looking for BCVI in the pediatric blunt trauma population. New criteria are needed to adequately indicate the need for CT angiography in the pediatric trauma population. Level of evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1861-1865
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • BCVI
  • Pediatrics
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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