Neuroimaging for non-accidental head injury in childhood: a proposed protocol

Clin Radiol. 2003 Jan;58(1):44-53. doi: 10.1053/crad.2002.1094.


Non-accidental head injury (NAHI) is a major cause of neurological disability and death during infancy. Radiological imaging plays a crucial role in evaluating craniospinal injury, both for guiding medical management and the forensic aspects of abusive trauma. The damage sustained is varied, complex and may be accompanied by an evolving pattern of brain injury secondary to a cascade of metabolic and physiological derangements. Regrettably, many cases are poorly or incompletely evaluated leading to diagnostic errors and difficulties in executing subsequent child care or criminal proceedings. It is evident, from cases referred to the authors, that imaging protocols for NAHI are lacking (or only loosely adhered to, if present) in many centres throughout the U.K. Future research in this field will also be hampered if there is a lack of consistent and reliable radiological data. There is no nationally agreed protocol for imaging NAHI. We propose such a protocol, based upon a wide experience in the medical management of child abuse and extensive involvement in the medicolegal aspects of NAHI.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • United Kingdom