Objective: To assess the effect of teleradiology upon the need for transfer of head injured victims requiring hospitalisation but referred initially to a rural level 2 trauma centre without neurosurgical capacity.
Methods: Head injured patients requiring hospitalisation, admitted to a rural level 2 trauma centre between August 2003 and August 2005, were identified. A digitalised copy of the computed tomographic (CT) scan was transferred to the neurosurgical referral centre via teleradiology and was available for review by the neurosurgeon on-call, who then, together with the trauma surgeon in the rural level 2 trauma centre, decided whether to transfer the patient to the neurosurgical referral centre.
Results: Of 209 trauma victims with neurosurgical pathology in need of hospitalisation, 126 (60.2%) were immediately transferred while 83 (39.7%) of the patients were hospitalised in the rural level 2 trauma centre for observation. Two (2.4%) failed the intent to treat locally. One patient, suffering from multi-trauma, was stabilised after damage control laparotomy only to succumb to an enlarging epidural haematoma. Another patient was transferred 2 days after admission because of difficulty in clinical evaluation due to a previously existing neurological disorder, but no active treatment was necessary. All other 81 patients recovered uneventfully.
Conclusions: Selective head injured patients with pathological CT scan may be safely managed in level 2 trauma centres. A committed trauma team in the rural trauma centre, neurosurgical consultation and availability of a teleradiology system are requisites. Currently existing transfer criteria should be carefully re-evaluated.
- ATLS, Advanced Trauma Life Support
- CT, computed tomography
- GCS, Glasgow Coma Scale
- HYMC, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center
- ISS, Injury Severity Score
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Competing interests: None declared
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