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A Novel Method for Removing a Spinal Cord with Attached Cervical Ganglia from a Pediatric Decedent

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A diagnosis of child abuse is dependent on a comprehensive and accurate assessment of injury in the context of a thorough investigation. However, signatures of trauma are often subtle and interpretation can be very difficult. Recently, researchers have refocused their attention from the head to the neck in search of traumatic signatures of abusive head trauma. HCIFS has developed a technique to remove the cervical spinal cord with the ganglia attached that is less destructive and more time and cost efficient than alternative methods previously published. Once removed, the dorsal nerve roots and ganglia are evaluated for the presence of hemorrhage. The authors performed a small pilot study using the novel method to evaluate 20 decedents with a history of blunt force trauma and eight without a traumatic history. Fifteen of the traumatic deaths and two of the nontraumatic deaths were found to have dorsal nerve root and/or ganglia hemorrhage.
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Keywords: blunt force trauma; cervical ganglion; child abuse; forensic pathology; forensic science; spinal cord

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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