Department of Pathology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Neuropathology and Ocular Pathology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom. Electronic address: [Email]
In infants, traumatic surface contusions of the brain are rare but subcortical clefts or cysts, variously labelled "contusional tears", "contusional clefts", "cortical tears" or "parenchymal lacerations" have been ascribed to trauma, and are even said to be characteristic of shaking and abuse. We describe the pathology of subcortical clefts or haemorrhages in seven infants. In none were the axonal swellings characteristic of traumatic axonal injury seen in relation to the clefts. Subpial bleeding was associated with clefts in all the cases of recent onset. We hypothesize that subcortical clefts are not due to direct mechanical forces of trauma but are part of a secondary cascade caused by impaired venous drainage which may or may not follow trauma. The finding of subcortical and subpial haemorrhages should prompt a search for CVT. We consider the term "contusion" is not accurate and is misleading.