American College of Radiology
ACR Appropriateness Criteria®

Head Trauma

Variant 1: Minor or mild acute closed head injury (GCS ≥13), imaging not indicated by NOC or CCHR or NEXUS-II clinical criteria (see Appendix 1). Initial study.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 2: Minor or mild acute closed head injury (GCS ≥13), imaging indicated by NOC or CCHR or NEXUS-II clinical criteria (see Appendix 1). Initial study.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 3: Moderate or severe acute closed head injury (GCS <13). Initial study.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 4: Short-term follow-up imaging of acute traumatic brain injury. No neurologic deterioration.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
MRI head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without IV contrast May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 5: Short-term follow-up imaging of acute traumatic brain injury. Neurologic deterioration, delayed recovery, or persistent unexplained deficits.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 8 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 4 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 6: Subacute or chronic traumatic brain injury with new cognitive and/or neurologic deficit(s).
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 7 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 3 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 3 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI functional (fMRI) head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MR spectroscopy head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 7: Suspected intracranial arterial injury.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CTA head and neck with IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 3 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 7 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRA head and neck without and with IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 6 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 8: Suspected intracranial venous injury.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 7 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 6 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 6 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 3 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 2 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT venography head with IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MR venography head without IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MR venography head without and with IV contrast Usually appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Variant 9: Suspected post-traumatic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.
Procedure Appropriateness Category SOE Adult RRL Peds RRL Rating Median Final Tabulations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CT head without IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 3 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 3 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arteriography cervicocerebral Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast May be appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 5 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head without and with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head with IV contrast Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv ☢☢☢ 0.3-3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radiography skull Usually not appropriate ☢ <0.1 mSv ☢☢ 0.03-0.3 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
FDG-PET/CT brain Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tc-99m HMPAO SPECT head Usually not appropriate ☢☢☢☢ 10-30 mSv ☢☢☢☢ 3-10 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MRI head without IV contrast with DTI Usually not appropriate O 0 mSv O 0 mSv [ped] 1 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT maxillofacial without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢ 0.1-1mSv 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT temporal bone without IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv 9 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CT head cisternography with IV contrast Usually appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv 8 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
In-111 DTPA cisternography May be appropriate ☢☢☢ 1-10 mSv 6 n/a 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Please refer to the supporting documentation for a more complete discussion of the concepts and their definitions below.
Final Tabulations:
A histogram of the number of panel members who rated the recommendation as noted in the column heading (ie, 1, 2, 3, …etc.)
Disagree:
The variation of the individual ratings from the median rating indicates panel disagreement on the final recommendation.
References:
Lists the references associated with the recommendation
SQ:
Study Quality (1, 2, 3, 4, Good M or Inadequate M) of the references listed.
RRL:
Information on the Relative Radiation Level (RRL) designations can be found here.