Neuroimaging differential diagnoses to abusive head trauma

Pediatr Radiol. 2016 May;46(5):603-14. doi: 10.1007/s00247-015-3509-3. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Trauma is the most common cause of death in childhood, and abusive head trauma is the most common cause of traumatic death and morbidity in infants younger than 1 year. The main differential diagnosis of abusive head trauma is accidental traumatic brain injury, which is usually witnessed. This paper also discusses more uncommon diagnoses such as congenital and acquired disorders of hemostasis, cerebral arteriovenous malformations and metabolic diseases, all of which are extremely rare. Diagnostic imaging including CT and MRI is very important for the distinction of non-accidental from accidental traumatic injury.

Keywords: Abusive head trauma; Child; Computed tomography; Head injury; Hematologic diseases; Infant; Magnetic resonance imaging; Metabolic disorders; Subdural hematoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging / methods*