Guidelines for postmortem protocol for ocular investigation of sudden unexplained infant death and suspected physical child abuse

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2007 Dec;28(4):323-9. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31815b4c00.


Postmortem examination is a cornerstone in identifying the cause of unexplained sudden death in children. Even in cases of suspected or known abuse, an autopsy may help characterize the nature of the abuse, which is particularly important in the forensic autopsy of children in the first 3 to 4 years of life when inflicted neurotrauma is most common. Forensic examinations are vital in cases that might otherwise be diagnosed as sudden infant death syndrome. The ocular autopsy in particular may demonstrate findings that were not appreciated on antemortem clinical examination. This protocol for postmortem examination of the eyes and orbits was developed to promote more consistent documentation of findings, improved clinical and forensic decision making, and more replicable and coherent research outcomes.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy / standards*
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Injuries / pathology*
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Sudden Infant Death / pathology*
  • United States