Comparison of minor head trauma management in the emergency departments of a United States and Italian Children's hospital

Brittany M. Stopa, Stefano Amoroso, Luca Ronfani, Elena Neri, Egidio Barbi, Lois K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pediatric head trauma management varies between emergency departments globally. Here we aim to compare the pediatric minor head trauma management between a US and Italian hospital. Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of children 0-18 years old presenting after minor head trauma (Glasgow Coma Scale 14-15) from two emergency departments, in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and Trieste, Italy, between January and December 2013. Frequencies of demographic, clinical, and management characteristic were calculated. We compared rate ratios for characteristics of patients receiving cranial computed tomography (CT) scans between the two populations. Results: There were 1783 patients in Boston, Massachusetts and 183 patients in Trieste, Italy. Patients in Boston had more reported neurologic symptoms (61.2%) than in Trieste (6%) (p < 0.001). More CT scans were ordered on the patients in Boston (17.3% vs. 6.6%) (p < 0.001), while more children were hospitalized in Trieste (55.7% vs. 8.6%) (p < 0.001). Patients with neurological symptoms more commonly had a CT scan in Trieste (45.5%) than in Boston (23.5%) (RR 0.52, 95% CI 0.27, 1.00), while more patients without neurological symptoms had CTs in Boston (7.5%) than in Trieste (4.1%) (RR 1.85, 95% CI 0.86, 4.00). Assignment of triage levels and definitions of head injury severity varied considerably between the two hospitals, resulting in dissimilar populations presenting to the two hospitals, and thus, differences in the management of these children. Conclusion: The population of head trauma patients and the management of pediatric minor head trauma differs between Boston and Trieste, with a preference for CT scans in Boston and a preference for hospitalization in Trieste. Clinical guidelines used at each institution likely lead to this variation in care influenced by the different patient populations and institutional resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 11 2019


  • Clinical guidelines
  • Head trauma management
  • Minor head trauma
  • Pediatric head trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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