PECARN neck injury prediction rule could decrease imaging exposure

  • Published May 31, 2024

Cervical spine injuries in children are relatively rare but can have serious consequences, like paralysis. The standard method for detecting these injuries involves X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans, which expose children to radiation and may pose long-term health risks.

In a a study published yesterday in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, researchers from the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) outline a novel approach to predicting cervical spine injuries in children that reduces the need for imaging by half – while ensuring injuries are not missed.

“Quickly and accurately identifying children with potentially severe injuries is crucial for emergency medical providers,” said Julie Leonard, MD, MPH, who led the PECARN study team and is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. "Our extensive, multicenter study demonstrates that using this rule, which relies solely on self-reported symptoms and physical examination, can prevent unnecessary radiation in children.”

Read the press release or post from PECARN’s new blog.