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Spontaneous Acute Subdural Hematoma Complicating Arachnoid Cyst

Burke, Michael Philip MB, BS, BSc, FRCPA, Dip Forens Path*†; O'Donnell, Chris MB, BS, FRANZCR, MMed*†; Opeskin, Kenneth MD, FRCPA, MBBS‡§

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p 382-384
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181fc354b
Case Reports

The overwhelming majority of cases of acute subdural hematoma in the forensic setting occur as a result of head trauma. We report a case of sudden unexpected death in a middle-aged woman with a history of arachnoid cyst who had sudden spontaneous onset of severe headache that was rapidly followed by collapse and death. A postmortem multiple-slice computed tomographic scan showed a large acute subdural hematoma associated with hemorrhage into an arachnoid cyst. Subdural hemorrhage is an uncommon but well-described complication of an arachnoid cyst.

From the *Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Southbank; †Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne; ‡Department of Anatomical Pathology, St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy; and §Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Manuscript received February 27, 2007; accepted May 13, 2007.

Reprints: Michael Philip Burke, MB, BS, BSc, FRCPA, Dip Forens Path, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, 57-83 Kavanagh St, Southbank, Victoria, Australia 3066; and Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.