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Pediatrics. 2010 Nov;126(5):961-70. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1220. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Retinal hemorrhage in abusive head trauma.

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  • 1Pediatric Ophthalmology and Ocular Genetics, Wills Eye Institute, Suite 1210, 840 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA. alevin@willseye.org

Abstract

Retinal hemorrhage is a cardinal manifestation of abusive head trauma. Over the 30 years since the recognition of this association, multiple streams of research, including clinical, postmortem, animal, mechanical, and finite element studies, have created a robust understanding of the clinical features, diagnostic importance, differential diagnosis, and pathophysiology of this finding. The importance of describing the hemorrhages adequately is paramount in ensuring accurate and complete differential diagnosis. Challenges remain in developing models that adequately replicate the forces required to cause retinal hemorrhage in children. Although questions, such as the effect of increased intracranial pressure, hypoxia, and impact, are still raised (particularly in court), clinicians can confidently rely on a large and solid evidence base when assessing the implications of retinal hemorrhage in children with concern of possible child abuse.

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