Using Computed Tomography skeletal surveys to evaluate for occult bony injury in suspected non-accidental injury cases – A preliminary experience

Publication Name

Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology


Introduction: This case series summarises our institution’s preliminary experience of using computed tomography skeletal surveys (CT-SS) for the assessment of infants with suspected non-accidental injury (NAI) who were unable to undergo radiographic skeletal surveys (SS). This paper describes our experience using CT-SS in terms of radiation doses achieved, occult bony injury detection and forensic utility. Methods: Ten infants aged between two weeks and ten months underwent a CT-SS. The results of the CT-SS were compared with concurrent imaging results where available. Radiation doses from imaging procedures were calculated for each patient. Results: Six infants had abnormalities identified on CT-SS. Two patients had both an ante-mortem CT-SS and post-mortem imaging. All fractures identified on alternate imaging modalities were visible on at least one CT-SS reconstruction. The radiation dose associated with CT-SS imaging ranged from 0.73 to 1.46mSv. Conclusion: The radiation dose received by the ten infants in this study was greater than the two skeletal survey approach but was less than the dose received during a bone scintigraphy examination, sometimes used to assess for occult bony injury in this setting. While CT-SS imaging results could not be compared with those obtained with current contemporaneous gold standard imaging techniques, CT-SS identified all fractures observed on the radiographic images where performed. CT-SS also identified additional rib fractures in two patients. Our preliminary findings indicate the need for future prospective studies to clarify the ability of CT-SS to detect metaphyseal fractures reliably.

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