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01.03.2015 | Technical Note | Ausgabe 2/2015

International Journal of Legal Medicine 2/2015

Visualisation of the intact dura mater and brain surface in infant autopsies: a minimally destructive technique for the post-mortem assessment of head injury

International Journal of Legal Medicine > Ausgabe 2/2015
Emma C. Cheshire, Roger D. G. Malcomson, Guy N. Rutty, Deryk S. James


During the post-mortem examination of babies and young children, it is important to be able to visualise the brain and its coverings, particularly in cases where a head injury is likely to have occurred. In this paper, we present an improved method for removal of the calvarial bones in infant autopsies to enable viewing of the dura mater and brain. In contrast to the standard post-mortem procedure for observing and removing the brain, this novel technique is minimally disruptive, allowing the dura mater to remain undamaged. Specialised paediatric neurosurgical tools were used to remove the skull bones from 23 neonates, infants and young children during post-mortem examination. In 21 of our 23 cases, the calvarial bones were removed successfully with the dura mater remaining intact. In one case, there was a thickening of the dura mater which created a strong adherence of this membrane to the bone. In another case, the dura mater was slightly damaged due to the inexperience of the operator in using the neurosurgical tools. This method of calvarial bone removal reduces the degree of post-mortem artefact and enhances the ability to observe and photographically document autopsy findings, including the artefact-free detection of signs of injury such as epidural or subdural haematoma, and brain swelling. This technique has now become a routine practise in both of our units to remove the skull bones in infant/young children post-mortem examinations.

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