Retroclival collections associated with abusive head trauma in children

Pediatr Radiol. 2014 Dec;44 Suppl 4:S621-31. doi: 10.1007/s00247-014-3170-2. Epub 2014 Dec 14.


Retroclival collections are rare lesions reported almost exclusively in children and strongly associated with trauma. We examine the incidence and imaging characteristics of retroclival collections in young children with abusive head trauma. We conducted a database search to identify children with abusive head trauma ≤ 3 years of age with brain imaging performed between 2007 and 2013. Clinical data and brain images of 65 children were analyzed. Retroclival collections were identified in 21 of 65 (32%) children. Ten (48%) were subdural, 3 (14%) epidural, 2 (10%) both, and 6 (28%) indeterminate. Only 8 of 21 retroclival collections were identifiable on CT and most were low or intermediate in attenuation. Eighteen of 21 retroclival collections were identifiable on MRI: 3 followed cerebral spinal fluid in signal intensity and 15 were bloody/proteinaceous. Additionally, 2 retroclival collections demonstrated a fluid-fluid level and 2 enhanced in the 5 children who received contrast material. Sagittal T1-weighted images, sagittal fluid-sensitive sequences, and axial FLAIR (fluid-attenuated inversion recovery) images showed the retroclival collections best. Retroclival collections were significantly correlated with supratentorial and posterior fossa subdural hematomas and were not statistically correlated with skull fracture or parenchymal brain injury. Retroclival collections, previously considered rare lesions strongly associated with accidental injury, were commonly identified in this cohort of children with abusive head trauma, suggesting that retroclival collections are an important component of the imaging spectrum in abusive head trauma. Retroclival collections were better demonstrated on MRI than CT, were commonly identified in conjunction with intracranial subdural hematomas, and were not significantly correlated with the severity of brain injury or with skull fractures.

MeSH terms

  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / diagnostic imaging
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / pathology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / diagnosis*
  • Hematoma, Epidural, Cranial / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data