Aim: Pilot study of the role of RetCam imaging for telemedicine in lieu of availability of ophthalmologist examination for cases of suspected abusive head injury.
Design: Cross-sectional observational study.
Participants: 21 children admitted in the paediatric units of the University Hospital of Strasbourg (France) with suspicion of abusive head trauma were included.
Methods: Children were examined by standard ophthalmoscopy. Photographs were taken using the RetCam-120 Digital Retinal Camera. Eye fundus images were stored and remotely read by an ophthalmologist. Patients also had radiographic skeletal series to look for bone fractures, and CT scan and/or MRI of the head to look for intracranial haemorrhages.
Main outcome measures: The absence or presence of retinal haemorrhages was assessed by both methods. Feasability, sensitivity and specificity of the digital camera procedure were determined.
Results: 85.7% of the children presented cerebral bleeding, and 14 out of the 21 (66.7%) had retinal haemorrhages on ophthalmoscopy. The digital camera detected the retinal abnormalities in all cases. One false-positive case was also reported. The sensitivity of the digital camera detection method was 100% with a specificity of 85.7%. 14 patients were eventually diagnosed as suffering from abusive trauma. RetCam helped establishing the diagnosis of abuse in 92.8% of these cases.
Conclusions: Digital photography compared with ophthalmoscopy has a good sensitivity and specificity in detecting retinal haemorrhages. Remote reading of RetCam-120 photographs could be a promising strategy in detecting children with abusive head trauma.
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