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August 1990

Ocular and Associated Systemic Findings in Suspected Child Abuse: A Necropsy Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, Kellogg Eye Center (Drs S. G. Elner and V. M. Elner), and the Department of Pathology (Dr V. M. Elner), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Office of the Medical Examiner, District 21, Ft Myers, Fla (Dr Arnall); and Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston (Dr Albert).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1990;108(8):1094-1101. doi:10.1001/archopht.1990.01070100050033

• We reviewed complete ocular and systemic necropsy findings of 10 consecutive children who died of suspected child abuse. All 10 children had evidence at necropsy of blunt head trauma, although external signs of blunt trauma occasionally were covert. Ocular injuries were observed in 7 of the 10 cases and when present always included retinal, vitreous, and subdural optic nerve hemorrhages. In 5 cases, intrascleral hemorrhage from the circle of Zinn occurred at the sclera-optic nerve junction. In 4 cases, traumatic retinoschisis or tractional retinal folds were present. Anterior segment findings were uniformly consistent with blunt trauma. Hemosiderin, indicating old hemorrhage, was present in 3 cases. Intracranial hemorrhage, present in all cases with abnormal ocular findings, was always accompanied by signs of direct head trauma, such as subgaleal hemorrhage, skull fracture, cerebral contusion, or external contusions, which were sometimes subtle or hidden beneath the hair.

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