The results of a study of Bodanapally et al. from Department of Radiology , Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Imaging Sciences and Nuclear Medicine, Neurosurgery Baltimore, Maryland, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Imaging Science Atlanta, Georgia, indicate that virtual high monochromatic (190 keV, thin-section) images combined with standard 120 kV images may provide optimal diagnostic performance for evaluation of patients suspected of TBI 1).
The information supplied by the admission CT scan not only allows for diagnostic screening for potential intracranial injuries requiring acute neurosurgical interventions, but also provides important prognostic information. If better implemented, outcome prediction models could help prioritize resources in the emergency setting. Better outcome prediction could also have the potential to improve TBI research by providing baseline risk stratification in trials and to optimize standardization of cohorts in comparative effectiveness research 4).
Retrospective data show that routine CT scanning (in the absence of any clinical deterioration) after mild traumatic brain injury or moderate TBI had no therapeutic (interventional) consequences 9) 10).
On the other hand there is a trend towards routine use for patients with severe TBI but the evidence to support this concept is low. Some authors recommend a cCT scan if clinical signs of neurological deterioration occur 11) , other findings suggest that routine cCT might be beneficial in some subgroups of patients 12) 13). In particular patients with multiple trauma and severe TBI and patients who are endotracheally intubated, mechanically ventilated, and sedated might benefit from routine repeated cCT 14). There is only a single study which investigated the role of a follow-up cCT scan exclusively in unconscious, sedated, and mechanically ventilated patients with severe TBI 15). In those patients early clinical signs of neurologic deterioration are potentially difficult to detect. A change in pupils' status, signs of brain herniation, and seizures are commonly clinical signs of severe brain damage and therapeutic intervention might be too late 16).
Discharge after a repeat head CT and brief period of observation in the Emergency Department allowed early discharge of a cohort of mild TBI patients with traumatic ICH without delayed adverse outcomes. Whether this justifies the cost and radiation exposure involved with this pattern of practice requires further study 17).
The proper classification of these patients is of major importance in situations where a CT is not accessible.
A portable screening device that uses near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technology allows a preliminary estimate of an intracranial hematoma.
The use of the device in a military medical rescue center (Kunduz, Afghanistan) is easy to learn and can be repeatedly used even under emergency room conditions. The technique can be applied in penetrating and blunt TBIs in the absence of an immediately available CT scan in rural areas, preclinically, under mass casualty conditions (e.g., in disaster situations) as well as in humanitarian crises or war zones. Nevertheless, further studies to assess the validity of this device are necessary 18).