Head Trauma

Q1: What are the common symptoms of head injury?
Q2: What are the various manifestations of head injury?
Q3: What are the available procedures and their utility in the evaluation of head trauma?
Case 1:

50 year old previously healthy male one day post a motor vehicle accident, presents to his physician's office, just to make sure that everything is okay. Yesterday, the patient was in the driver's seat stopped at a red light when he was rear-ended by a truck at approximately 35-40 mph. He was wearing his seatbelt which prevented him from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard, but the back of his head did snap back into the headrest. Patient says he feels fine but was urged by his wife to get a checkup anyway. Patient. denies any symptoms. Normal neurological examination.

Is there a need for imaging studies in this case? Why or why not? What are the medico legal issues of head trauma?
Case 2:

A 58 year old alcoholic male was brought to the hospital after a fall down a flight of stairs. His neighbor reported he fell head first but denied any loss of consciousness. The patient was disoriented . Neurological exam was significant for hemiparesis, 3 rd and 4 th cranial nerve palsies, and a left Babinski sign.

What is your working diagnosis?

Sub dural hematoms

Which imaging procedure will you order?

Non contrast CT head.

Head CT showed a large crescenteric right-sided acute subdural hematoma.

Case 3:

A 35 year old male who was involved in a motor vehicle accident and was brought to the hospital by ambulance complaining of a severe headache. He was reported to be disoriented and combative at the scene . En route to the ER, the patient's mental status improved and he was more cooperative. However, upon arrival in the ER the patient's mental status worsened. He had no memory of the accident. He complained of worsening headache. On physical examination, the patient had swelling around the left temporal region as well as left periorbital ecchymosis.

What is your working diagnosis?

Epidural hematoma

Which imaging procedure will you order?

 Non contrast CT

CT showed a left-sided well-defined biconvex extra-axial mass consistent with an acute epidural hematoma.

Bone windows showed a linear fracture skull.

Case 4:

A 25 year old male was brought to the emergency room by ambulance after sustaining a blow to the head with a baseball bat during a altercation between himself and another person. The patient lost consciousness immediately but then regained consciousness within several minutes and was disoriented until arrival at the hospital. Currently he is alert and oriented and complaining of a bilateral headache, worse on left. On physical exam a tender swelling around the left forehead was seen. No focal neurological deficits. Fundus was normal.

What is your working diagnosis?

Skull fracture

Which imaging procedure will you order?

CT scan which confirmed the left frontal skull fracture (bone window) and ruled out underlying parenchymal injury (brain window).

What is meant by the terms bone and brain window in CT?
Case 5:

A 19 year old male returning from a party, fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car into a street lamp post. He was not wearing his seatbelt. The patient was found unconscious. His face appeared swollen and was splattered with blood, especially around his head. Vital signs were stable.

CT, showed several linear lucencies scattered throughout his skull. Sphenoid sinus was opacified indicating that the cause of the extensive pneumocephalus was a fracture of the base of the skull.

What is pneumocephalus ? What does mastoid and sphenoid opacification in the setting of pneumocephalus suggest?

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