Magnetic resonance imaging of intracranial injuries from child abuse

J Pediatr. 1986 Dec;109(6):975-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(86)80279-7.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) were compared in four children who had evidence of intracranial injury caused by shaking. All children had intracranial bleeding, neurologic impairment, and history or physical examination findings suggestive of child abuse. Three had bilateral retinal hemorrhages, and three had visual impairment. MRI revealed bilateral subdural hematomas in all four children, but CT showed this in only one. Skull fractures in one patient were visualized by CT alone. MRI alone demonstrated posterior fossa bleeding in one patient and intraparenchymal bleeding in another; an additional patient in whom CT showed relatively diffuse atrophy also had defined areas of focal atrophy apparent on MRI. Subarachnoid hemorrhages were equally well detected using CT or MRI. Overall, MRI was superior to CT for detection of intracranial injury caused by shaking, and may help to document milder instances of this form of child abuse.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior
  • Hematoma / diagnosis
  • Hematoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Hematoma, Subdural / diagnosis
  • Hematoma, Subdural / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Skull Fractures / diagnosis
  • Skull Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed