Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 457–460 | Cite as

Nonaccidental trauma: clinical aspects and epidemiology of child abuse

  • Christopher J. Hobbs
  • Robert A. C. Bilo


Radiologists play a key role in the recognition of child abuse. In the last century, radiologists pioneered the identification of nonaccidental injuries, including fractures and brain injury, and together with colleagues in paediatrics advocated the protection of children from abuse. Prevalence studies in many countries have revealed the widespread and hidden nature of child maltreatment. New and complex forms of abuse, e.g. fabricated or induced illness, have been recognized. Physical abuse affects 7–9% of children in the UK, although fewer suffer the severe or life-threatening injuries seen by radiologists. A high index of suspicion of nonaccidental trauma is required where known patterns of injury or inconsistencies of presentation and history are detected. In many cases the diagnosis is readily made, although some cases remain contentious or controversial and consume much clinical time and energy. Differences of view between doctors are tested in the courts. Adverse publicity has made this work unpopular in the UK. Knowledge of the differential diagnosis of unexplained or apparent injury is essential for accurate diagnosis, vital where errors in either direction can be disastrous. New UK radiological guidelines will assist radiologists in achieving best evidence-based practice.


Child abuse Radiology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community PaediatricsSt James’s University HospitalLeedsUK
  2. 2.Department of Forensic PathologyNetherlands Forensic InstituteThe HagueThe Netherlands

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