Objective The National Emergency X-Radiography Utilisation Study II (NEXUS II) clinical decision rule (CDR) can be used to optimise the use of CT in children with head trauma. We set out to externally validate this CDR in a large cohort.
Methods We performed a prospective observational study of patients aged
Results Of 20 137 total patients, we excluded 28 with suspected penetrating injury. Median age was 4.2 years. CTs were obtained in ED for 1962 (9.8%), of whom 377 (19.2%) had ICI as defined by NEXUS II. 74 (19.6% of ICI) patients underwent neurosurgery.
Sensitivity for ICI based on the NEXUS II CDR was 379/383 (99.0 (95% CI 97.3% to 99.7%)) and specificity was 9320/19 726 (47.2% (95% CI 46.5% to 47.9%)) for the total cohort. Sensitivity in the CT-only cohort was similar. Of the 18 022 children without CT in ED, 49.4% had at least one NEXUS II risk criterion. Sensitivity for ICI by the clinicians without the rule was 377/377 (100.0% (95% CI 99.0% to 100.0%)) and specificity was 18 147/19 732 (92.0% (95% CI 91.6% to 92.3%)).
Conclusions NEXUS II had high sensitivity, similar to the derivation study. However, approximately half of unimaged patients were positive for NEXUS II risk criteria; this may result in an increased CT rate in a setting with high clinician accuracy.