The frequency of 'talk and deteriorate' in the emergency department (ED), subsequent deterioration of patients with seemingly 'mild' head injury at the time of presentation, is summarized. Among the 1,073 patients with minor head injury treated in the last 5 years, five patients (0.5%) deteriorated in the ED. All of the five patients had experienced transient loss of consciousness (LOC) before presentation. Deterioration had occurred during treatment of trivial associated injuries in four-fifths of the cases. Computed tomography (CT) scans revealed four acute epidural hematomas and one cerebellar contusion. Retrospectively, immediate brain CT shortly after their arrival may have revealed the presence of traumatic intracranial hematomas before deterioration. Although routine use of CT scans in patients with mild head injury has been controversial, the authors conclude that CT scans should be taken if patients have experienced transient LOC to prevent or reduce the occurrence of deteriolation in ED. (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.
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