Implementation of a dual cervical spine and blunt cerebrovascular injury assessment pathway for pediatric trauma patients.

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Pediatric cervical spine (CSI) and blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVI) are challenging to evaluate as they are rare but carry high morbidity and mortality. CT scans are the traditional imaging modality to evaluate for CSI/BCVI, but involve radiation exposure and potential future increased risk of malignancy. Therefore, we present results from the implementation of a combined CSI/BCVI pediatric trauma clinical pathway to aid clinicians in their decision-making.We conducted a 2-year retrospective cohort study analyzing data pre and post implementation of the combined CSI/BCVI pathway. Data was obtained from a level 1 pediatric trauma center and included blunt trauma patients under the age of 14. We evaluated the use of cervical spine computed tomography (CT), CT angiography, and plain radiographs, as well as missed injuries and provider pathway adherence.We included 358 patients: 209 pre-pathway and 149 post-pathway implementation. Patient mean age was 8.9 years and 61% were male (61% males). There were no significant differences in GCS, AIS, and ISS between pre and post pathway groups. Post pathway implementation saw reduced use of cervical spine CT, although this was not clinically significant (33% vs 31%, p = 0.74). However, cervical spine radiography use increased (9% vs 16%, p = 0.03), and there was also an increase in screening for BCVI injuries with higher use of CTA (5% vs 7%, p = 0.52). A total of 12 CSI and 3 BCVI were identified with no missed injuries. Provider adherence to the pathway was modest (54%). Conclusion Implementation of a combined CSI/BCVI clinical pathway for pediatric trauma patients increased screening radiography and did not miss any injuries. However, CT use did not significantly decrease and provider adherence was modest, supporting the need for further implementation analysis and larger studies to validate the pathway’s sensitivity and specificity for CSI/BCVI.

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Authors: Maria Schonenberg Llach, Jennifer N Fishe, Brian K Yorkgitis