Parenchymal brain laceration as a predictor of abusive head trauma

L. A. Palifka, L. D. Frasier, R. R. Metzger, G. L. Hedlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Accurate differentiation of abusive head trauma and accidental head injury in infants and young children is critical and impacts clinical care, patient prognosis, forensic investigations, and medicolegal proceedings. No specific finding seen on cross-sectional brain imaging has been reported to distinguish abusive head trauma from accidental injury. Our study investigated whether a specific imaging finding, parenchymal brain laceration, is unique to children diagnosed with abusive head trauma. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively identified 137 patients with abusive head trauma and 28 patients who incurred moderate to severe accidental brain injury. Brain MR imaging represented the imaging standard for characterizing intracranial injuries. RESULTS: Among the abusive head trauma cohort, parenchymal brain lacerations were identified in 18 patients, while none were identified in any patients with accidental injury. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings are in concurrence with the existing forensic, pathology, and imaging literature, which suggests that parenchymal brain lacerations may be related to abusive injury mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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