Treatment of children with posttraumatic transient loss of consciousness

R. A. Dershewitz, B. A. Kaye, C. N. Swisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Recommendations for the treatment of asymptomatic children who have had a brief period of loss of consciousness due to blunt head trauma are anecdotal and vary greatly. The purpose of this study is to define the range of practice in treating children with uncomplicated loss of consciousness by determining: (1) the frequency of 'routine' hospitalization for observation and (2) those criteria which, when present, result in hospitalization. A total of 957 pediatricians representing five groups of physicians responded to a nationwide questionnaire survey to determine current treatment practices for uncomplicated loss of consciousness. Of all directors of pediatric emergency rooms and pediatric chief residents, 44% routinely hospitalize all patients who have had loss of consciousness. Academic child neurologists and child neurologists in private practice hospitalize these patients least frequently, 29% and 31%, respectively (P < 0.05). Of pediatricians in private practice, 38% admit all children with loss of consciousness. Pediatricians from all groups who do not routinely hospitalize all children with uncomplicated loss of consciousness showed similarity in the criteria they use for admission. These variables include: abnormal vital signs (97% to 100%), skull fracture (96% to 100%), suspicion of child abuse (93% to 100%), observation of a change in level of consciousness (92% to 99%), unreliable caretaker at home (91% to 98%), vomiting (90% to 99%), history of change in level of consciousness (88% to 100%), duration of loss of consciousness (88% to 96%), seizure (77% to 94%), age of child (62% to 75%), child nearly back to normal (32% to 48%), dizziness (22% to 49%), witness of loss of consciousness not reliable (24% to 36%), headache (9% to 16%), and decision deferred to neurosurgeon (2% to 7%). Criteria for the hospitalization of children with loss of consciousness need to be developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-607
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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