Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2023 Oct 31;31(1):65. doi: 10.1186/s13049-023-01138-1.
OBJECTIVE: Most older adults with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) reach the emergency department via the ambulance service. Older adults, often with mild TBI symptoms, risk being under-triaged and facing poor outcomes. This study aimed to identify whether sufficient information is available on the scene to an ambulance clinician to identify an older adult at risk of an intracranial haemorrhage following a head injury.
METHODS: This was a retrospective case-control observational study involving one regional ambulance service in the UK and eight emergency departments. 3545 patients aged 60 years and over presented to one regional ambulance service with a head injury between the 1st of January 2020 and the 31st of December 2020. The primary outcome was an acute intracranial haemorrhage on head computed tomography (CT) scan in patients conveyed to the emergency department (ED). A secondary outcome was factors associated with conveyance to the ED by the ambulance clinician.
RESULTS: In 2020, 2111 patients were conveyed to the ED and 162 patients were found to have an intracranial haemorrhage on their head CT scan. Falls from more than 2 m (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 3.45, 95% CI 1.78-6.40), chronic kidney disease (CKD) (aOR 2.80, 95% CI 1.25-5.75) and Clopidogrel (aOR 1.98, 95% CI 1.04-3.59) were associated with an intracranial haemorrhage. Conveyance to the ED was associated with patients taking anticoagulant and antiplatelet medication or a visible head injury or head injury symptoms.
CONCLUSION: This study highlights that while most older adults with a head injury are conveyed to the ED, only a minority will have an intracranial haemorrhage following their head injury. While mechanisms of injury such as falls from more than 2 m remain a predictor, this work highlights that Clopidogrel and CKD are also associated with an increased odds of tICH in older adults following a head injury. These findings may warrant a review of current ambulance head injury guidelines.