Retinal hemorrhages in patients with epidural hematomas

J AAPOS. 2008 Apr;12(2):177-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2007.07.009. Epub 2008 Feb 7.


Purpose: To present a series of infants found to have sparse retinal hemorrhages associated with isolated epidural hematomas. None of these infants had other intracranial or subdural hemorrhages present.

Methods: Children less than 3 years of age admitted to an urban children's hospital between January 1998 and December 2002 with radiographic evidence of an isolated epidural hematoma at the time of presentation were eligible for this study.

Results: During the time period of the study, 15 children were admitted with traumatic epidural hematomas. Nine patients had an ophthalmologic examination, of which five had evidence of sparse retinal hemorrhages. All five patients with retinal hemorrhages were less than 8 months of age and all required surgical evacuation of the epidural hematomas. Of the five patients with retinal hemorrhages, four were unilateral, one was bilateral, and in all cases, the retinal hemorrhages were superficial, few in number, and confined to the posterior pole. There were no deep retinal or subretinal hemorrhages present. The institutional child protection team evaluated all five patients with retinal hemorrhages and each case was felt to be consistent with the history provided and no history of shaking was elicited.

Conclusions: We found sparse retinal hemorrhages in five of nine patients who presented to our hospital with isolated epidural hematomas and who had had an ophthalmologic examination. All nine patients were evaluated by the institutional child protection team, who did not feel that there was sufficient evidence to be suspicious of nonaccidental trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications
  • Functional Laterality
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / complications*
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Partial Thromboplastin Time
  • Prothrombin Time
  • Radiography
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Fractures / etiology