Repeat Head CT? Not Necessary for Patients with a Negative Initial Head CT on Anticoagulation or Antiplatelet Therapy Suffering Low-Altitude Falls

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The American surgeon


Anticoagulation and antiplatelet (ACAP) medications are increasingly prescribed to patients at high risk for falls. Many trauma centers have developed protocols for obtaining repeat head CT (HCT) for patients with low-altitude falls on ACAP therapy. We assess the need for routine scheduled repeat HCT in this population. Prospective, observational analysis of all low-altitude fall (<6 >feet) patients on ACAP therapy evaluated at a Level II trauma center. All low-altitude fall patients with visible or suspected head trauma received an initial HCT. Patients were admitted and repeat HCT was obtained 12 hours later or earlier if acute neurologic decline developed. Chi-squared, Fischer exact, t, and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used. Statistical significance was defined as P < 0.05. Total of 1501 patients enrolled suffering low-altitude falls with initial HCT. Among them 1379(91.2%) were negative and 122(8.1%) were initially positive for intracranial hemorrhage. Mean age was 79.9 ± 11.4 years, 61 per cent were female and 85 per cent had visible head trauma at presentation. One hundred ninety-nine were excluded secondary to not receiving repeat HCT. Of the 1180 patients with normal initial HCT who underwent repeat HCT, only 7 (0.51%) had delayed intracranial hemorrhage. None of these patients required surgery, major changes in medical management or suffered head trauma-related mortality; 69 per cent were taking aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, ASA), 19 per cent warfarin, 17 per cent clopidogrel, 6 per cent other anticoagulants, and 11 per cent were on combination therapy. Repeat HCT for patients on any ACAP therapy after low-altitude fall with a negative initial HCT is not necessary. Thorough neurologic examination and close monitoring is as effective as obtaining a repeat HCT.

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Accidental Falls; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Anticoagulants; Female; Humans; Intracranial Hemorrhages; Male; Patient Selection; Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors; Prospective Studies; Tomography, X-Ray Computed; Trauma Centers; Trauma Severity Indices

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