Ottawa Rules

Other Known Aliasesnone

DefinitionSet of clinical decision instruments to help predict pretest probability in various injuries and need for further radiographical studies

Clinical Significance There are four Ottawa Rules clinical decision instruments that are currently used:

  • Knee
  • Foot and Ankle
  • Cervical Spine
  • Head CT in mild head injury

HistoryNamed after The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa over series of publications from 1992-2001. These publications have been validated numerous times and shown to decrease health care costs, unnecessary radiographic studies, and decrease throughput time in the emergency department. The brain behind these studies is Ian Stiell, a Canadian physician researcher who received his medical doctorate from the University of Ontario and completed his residency at McGill University. With over 370 publications to his name, he is a powerhouse in the realm of emergency medicine research.


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Up To Date. www.uptodate.com
  6. Stiell IG, Wells GA, Vandemheen KL, et al. The Canadian C-spine rule for radiography in alert and stable trauma patients. JAMA. 2001; 286(15):1841-8. [pubmed]
  7. Stiell IG, Greenberg GH, Wells GA, et al. Derivation of a decision rule for the use of radiography in acute knee injuries. Annals of emergency medicine. 1995; 26(4):405-13. [pubmed]
  8. Stiell IG, Greenberg GH, McKnight RD, Nair RC, McDowell I, Worthington JR. A study to develop clinical decision rules for the use of radiography in acute ankle injuries. Annals of emergency medicine. 1992; 21(4):384-90. [pubmed]

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