ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Head Trauma: 2021 Update

Expert Panel on Neurological Imaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Head trauma (ie, head injury) is a significant public health concern and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children and young adults. Neuroimaging plays an important role in the management of head and brain injury, which can be separated into acute (0–7 days), subacute (<3 months), then chronic (>3 months) phases. Over 75% of acute head trauma is classified as mild, of which over 75% have a normal Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15, therefore clinical practice guidelines universally recommend selective CT scanning in this patient population, which is often based on clinical decision rules. While CT is considered the first-line imaging modality for suspected intracranial injury, MRI is useful when there are persistent neurologic deficits that remain unexplained after CT, especially in the subacute or chronic phase. Regardless of time frame, head trauma with suspected vascular injury or suspected cerebrospinal fluid leak should also be evaluated with CT angiography or thin-section CT imaging of the skull base, respectively. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed annually by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and revision include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer reviewed journals and the application of well-established methodologies (RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation or GRADE) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures for specific clinical scenarios. In those instances where evidence is lacking or equivocal, expert opinion may supplement the available evidence to recommend imaging or treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S13-S36
JournalJournal of the American College of Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • AUC
  • Appropriate Use Criteria
  • Appropriateness Criteria
  • CT
  • Head trauma
  • MRI
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Head Trauma: 2021 Update'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this