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The organized subdural blood clot in forensic case work — a case report

Forensic Science International
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0379-0738(00)00232-2
  • Chronic Subdural Haematoma
  • Non-Traumatic
  • Head Injury
  • Biology
  • Criminology
  • Law
  • Medicine


Abstract The medico-legal assessment of a subdural haematoma (recent or organized) usually requires some information regarding its cause. Quite often, especially in the absence of a known history of trauma, minor head injuries, which are no longer verifiable, are simply assumed to be the most likely causes. Considering the fact that a subdural haematoma could also be non-traumatic, e.g. in haemorrhagic disorders, cardiac conditions with persistent passive hyperaemia, true inflammatory and degenerative processes of the dura, etc., the medico-legal implication of a possible head injury would require the exclusion of such non-traumatic conditions capable of causing subdural bleeding. In this respect, the case of a 92-year-old man, who suffered from cerebral sclerosis with occasional episodes of confusion and agitation, is briefly discussed. He was reported to have fallen from his bed, was hospitalized and died 2 days later. A head injury was suspected. At autopsy, no skull fractures and no obvious bruises were discovered. Fresh bilateral temporal subdural haematomas were found. These appeared consistent with a suspected head injury sustained as a result of a fall. Fairly large partly organized adherent subdural clots in the parieto-occipital region completely remote from and unconnected with the fresh bitemporal haematomas were also found. Based on the gross pathology and the histology, an attempt is made to assess the possible cause of the organized clots. Some of the findings indicated a possible non-traumatic origin, a consideration which is likely to affect the forensic implications.

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