Fatal Pediatric Head Injury Due to Toppled Television: Does the Injury Pattern Overlap with Abusive Head Trauma? | Legal Medicine
Pediatric head injuries can occur from abusive head trauma (AHT) or accidents. Accidental pediatric head injuries caused by cathode-ray tube televisions (CRTT) toppling have become a ‘silent epidemic’. Differentiation between a fatal case of AHT and CRTT toppling could be vexing when the historical and scene evidence are subtle.
A 2-year-old girl was found unresponsive in her house and could not be resuscitated. A 27” CRTT was found fallen from its stand onto the floor at the scene. The siblings report that the deceased was climbing on the television stand when it toppled. Autopsy revealed a spectrum of head injuries including, contusions, fractures, bilateral acute subdural hemorrhages, subarachnoid hemorrhages, brain contusion–lacerations and corpus callosal hemorrhages. Microscopy of the eyes revealed bilateral acute retinal hemorrhages. The cause of death was given as crushing injuries of head and brain.
The skull fracture pattern is compatible with an accident causing crush injury due to the toppled CRTT rather than AHT. The injury pattern reconfirms that the head is the most vulnerable site in case of CRTT tipover. Although there may be an overlap between the injury pattern in AHT and in CRTT tipover cases, a careful evaluation of the history and scene and autopsy findings such as the crushing nature of the skull fractures and distribution of injury, can solve this problem.