UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Trauma

Title: Oral anticoagulants and head injury

Posted: 5/29/2024 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 6/1/2024) (Updated: 6/1/2024)
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In this Scandinavian study looking at 2,362 head injury patients on oral anticoagulants, the authors found only 5 cases of delayed hemorrhage and none of the five  underwent neurosurgery.  The authors concluded:

“In patients with head trauma, on oral anticoagulation, the incidence of clinically relevant delayed intracranial hemorrhage was found to be less than one in a thousand, with detection occurring four days or later after initial presentation.”

It would appear based on this study and others that it is safe to discharge these patients with a normal head CT and giving strict return precautions for headache, nausea, vomiting or other changes.


André, L., Björkelund, A., Ekelund, U. et al. The prevalence of clinically relevant delayed intracranial hemorrhage in head trauma patients treated with oral anticoagulants is very low: a retrospective cohort register study. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 32, 42 (2024).