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Singapore Med J. 2008 Jun;49(6):445-9; quiz 450.

Bruises, blood coagulation tests and the battered child syndrome.

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Children's Haematology & Cancer Centre, East Shore Medical Centre, 319 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore.


Cutaneous bruises are a common symptom and a sign of injury and blood coagulation disorders in childhood. A carefully-taken history, coupled with a thorough physical examination, would lead to the diagnosis, or guide the clinician to the necessary laboratory investigations. Most children suffering from non-accidental injury can have their diagnosis established on clinical grounds alone and do not require laboratory investigation. An initial screening with full blood counts, prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time will be adequate in most cases if laboratory investigation is indicated, but the clinician must be aware of the limitations of these tests. The finding of an abnormal coagulation test does not exclude child abuse as it can be a consequence of maltreatment, or the two conditions may coexist. Whenever necessary, the opinion of a haematologist should be sought in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis, which is essential for subsequent management and the prevention of further injury in the case of child abuse.

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