Neuroimaging Evaluation of Non-accidental Head Trauma with Correlation to Clinical Outcomes: A Review of 57 Cases

Bradley R. Foerster, Myria Petrou, Doris Lin, Majda M. Thurnher, Martha D. Carlson, Peter J. Strouse, Pia C. Sundgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the clinical presentation and neuroimaging findings in patients with high clinical suspicion for non-accidental trauma (NAT) of the head, to investigate associations between imaging findings and long-term neurologic outcome in abused children. Study design: A retrospective review of 57 cases of NAT of the head from a single institution was performed. Neuroimaging studies (computed tomography [CT] and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) were reviewed by a senior neuroradiologist, a neuroradiology fellow, and a radiology resident. Clinical history and physical findings, including retinal examination, imaging, and follow-up assessment, were reviewed. Results: The mean time between the patient's arrival at the hospital and CT and MRI imaging was 2.9 hours and 40.6 hours, respectively. The most common clinical presentation was mental status changes, seen in 47% of patients. The most common neuroimaging finding was subdural hematoma, seen in 86% of patients. In the 47 patients who underwent both MRI and CT, 1 case of suspected NAT was missed on head CT. CT detected signs of global ischemia in all 11 patients who died (mean time after arrival at the hospital until undergoing CT, 1.1 hours). MRI detected additional signs of injury in patients who developed mild to moderate developmental delay. Conclusion: CT was able to detect evidence of NAT of the head in 56 of 57 abused children included in our cohort and predicted severe neurologic injury and mortality. MRI was useful in detecting additional evidence of trauma, which can be helpful in risk stratification for neurologic outcomes as well in providing confirming evidence of repeated injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-577
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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