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Keywords:

  • ceiling fan;
  • emergency medicine;
  • head injuries;
  • injuries and wounds;
  • prevention

Aim

To explore clinical aspects of head injuries caused by ceiling fans in children.

Methods

Cases were identified using a sensitive search strategy of the Townsville Emergency Department information system from 1 December 2005 to 30 April 2010, and a retrospective structured medical record review was undertaken.

Results

During the study period there were 136 presentations with relevant injuries, with a higher incidence in the warmer months. There were three common mechanisms; those related to ingress and egress from bunk beds, children lifted by an adult, and children jumping from a piece of furniture. Aside from lacerations, the majority of children had unremarkable history and examination findings. There were 29 Computed Tomography (CT) scans of the head performed, four skull X-rays and no c-spine imaging. Forty-six children received sedation or anaesthesia as part of their management, 38 in the Emergency Department and eight in the operating theatre. Seven children sustained skull fractures and a total of 13 children were admitted to hospital for an average length of stay of 2.3 days.

Conclusions

Ceiling fans are a small but important source of paediatric head injury in tropical Australia. Significant injuries are possible with 5% of patients having a positive finding on CT scan. Most fractures are palpable, CT is recommended if fracture cannot be confidently excluded clinically.