The purpose of this paper is to determine the necessity of a dedicated facial bone/orbital computed tomography (CT) scan for fracture surveillance in patients who have suffered blunt head trauma and whose routine nonenhanced head CT scan is negative. It is based on a retrospective review of 115 patients presenting to the Emergency Department at a level I trauma center after blunt head trauma. Included patients underwent both a nonenhanced head CT scan and a dedicated facial bone or orbit CT. Standard nonenhanced head CT protocol was followed for each patient as per department protocol. A positive head CT scan is defined to include either an air-fluid level within the paranasal sinuses or fracture of the maxillary, orbital, or zygomatic osseous structures. A negative scan demonstrates none of these findings. Intracranial/parenchymal pathology was not evaluated in this study. Sixty-five of the 115 patients had a negative head CT scan as defined above. Of these 65 patients, none subsequently had a positive facial bone or orbit CT scan. The sensitivity and negative predictive values of a negative routine nonenhanced head CT scan for fracture surveillance are both 100%. In the setting of blunt trauma, a negative nonenhanced head CT scan precludes the need for a dedicated facial bone or orbital CT scan in the evaluation for orbital, maxillary, or zygomatic fractures. This saves the patient unnecessary radiation exposure, health care costs, and time spent in the emergency radiology department.
- Blunt head trauma
- Facial bone fractures
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging