Normal computerized tomography of brain in children with shaken baby syndrome

J AAPOS. 2004 Oct;8(5):445-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2004.06.007.


Objective: To characterize the clinical presentation and clinical course of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) with normal cranial computerized tomography (CT) on admission and to suggest further diagnostic procedures in such circumstances.

Methods: Using a worldwide listserv designed to facilitate discussion in the field of child abuse and neglect, we solicited case information for children hospitalized in different medical centers, who were diagnosed with SBS and had a normal CT scan on admission.

Results: Nine cases were identified. While all children had an abnormal neurologic examination on admission, eight had a normal CT, and one had "widening of cranial sutures." In four cases, subdural hemorrhage was diagnosed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 3 to 7 days after admission. Five children had bone fractures. The neurological outcome was normal in four of nine cases. Five children had long-term neurologic damage. The diagnosis of SBS was supported by either perpetrator confession, characteristic evolution of brain abnormalities on CT or MRI, inconsistent or absent explanatory history, and/or other social risk factors.

Conclusion: The diagnosis of SBS can be established even when brain CT is normal on admission. The documentation of retinal hemorrhages is of primary importance in establishing the diagnosis of SBS in these cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cranial Sutures / injuries
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis
  • Hematoma, Subdural / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed