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Foreign Body Penetration of the Fontanelle: Mechanisms and Manner of Death

Byard, Roger W. MBBS, MD*; Blumbergs, Peter MBBS*†

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 197-199
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318221bc5a
Case Reports

Penetrating injuries of the anterior fontanelle are exceedingly uncommon and are most often associated with inflicted injury. This report of an 11-month-old boy, who fell backward onto a lampshade strut that penetrated his anterior fontanelle and left frontal lobe, demonstrates that accidental injuries may also rarely occur. Death was due to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy complicating raised intracranial pressure after a penetrating injury of the brain. Careful evaluation of the death scene with reconstruction incorporating the autopsy findings was required to establish the veracity of the history and the credibility of the proposed sequence of events. Mechanisms of death after penetrating injuries of the fontanelle include immediate effects from direct damage to cerebral vital structures or blood vessels with hemorrhage or delayed effects from either cerebral edema with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or sepsis.

From the *Discipline of Pathology, The University of Adelaide; and †Hanson Institute for Neurological Disease, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Manuscript received September 15, 2007; accepted January 16, 2008.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Roger W. Byard, MBBS, MD, Discipline of Pathology, Level 3 Medical School N Bldg, The University of Adelaide, Frome Rd, Adelaide 5005, Australia. E-mail:

© 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.