Abrasion: a scraping injury that carries away a surface of skin and causes bleeding.
Acute Subdural Hematoma: an arbitrarily assigned age of a subdural hematoma: usually 0-72 hours. There are clinical, gross, radiological and pathological characteristics for these.
Bilateral: of or relating to both sides.
Biliruben: A yellow-orange compound produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells. High Biliruben counts indicate jaundice.
Blunt Force Trauma (BFT): physical trauma caused to a body part, either by impact, injury or physical attack. This can be caused by a blunt object striking a body part, or a body part striking a blunt object, such as the floor.
Bridging Veins: large veins that channel blood from the brain surface to the superior sagittal and other intradural venous channels that cross the subarachnoid space. Breakage or injury of these vessels causes subdural hemorrhages.
Bruise: an injury that involves some degree (usually capillary) of bleeding into a tissue (usually the skin).
CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) Scan: an image made by computed tomography. Not as accurate for timing and dating as a MRI.
Cause of Death: the medical cause(s) bringing about the death of an individual.
Cephalic Presentation: Presenting with the head first at birth.
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF): the watery, clear fluid secreted by the choroids plexus, and probably the brain itself, that collects in the ventricles of the brain and surrounds the brain. It is produced at a constant rate at all times and must be correspondingly absorbed to maintain normal intracranial pressures.
Chronic Subdural Hematoma: subdural hematoma greater than 10 days old (usually when a neomembrane encloses or nearly encloses a hematoma). There are clinical, gross, radiological and pathological characteristics to these.
Coagulopathy: an abnormality of blood coagulation (generally either too much or too little). Can be assessed by platelet count, levels of clotting factors and other measures of blood clotting in the laboratory. There are hundreds, if not thousands of blood disorders—only a few of which are tested on regular blood tests or routine clotting tests.
Congenital: A condition that is congenital is one that is present at birth.
Conjunctiva: the outer covering the eyeball (the white of the eye).
Contusion: a bruise.
Crepitus: Crackling, crinkly, or grating feeling or sound under the skin, around the lungs, or in the joints. Crepitus in a joint can represent cartilage wear in the joint space or fractures.
Cutaneous: affecting the skin.
Cyanotic: Showing cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to not enough oxygen in the blood).
Diffuse Axonal Injuries: axonal injury that is widespread over the brain. The pathologist must take multiple samples, from different locations in the brain to document diffuse nature (Geddes).
Ecchymosis: small hemorrhagic spot, larger than a petechiae, in the skin or mucous membrane forming a non-elevated, rounded or irregular, blue or purplish patch caused by the escape of blood into the tissues from ruptured blood vessels
Edema: swelling caused by abnormal amounts of water that has accumulated outside vessels into the spaces between cells in an organ.
Encephalopathy: Inflammation of the brain. Encephalitis occurs, for example, in 1 in 1,000 cases of measles. It may start (up to 3 weeks) after onset of the measles rash and present with high fever, convulsions, and coma. It usually runs a blessedly short course with full recovery within a week. Or it may eventuate in central nervous system impairment or death.
Encephalitis can cause brain damage, which may result in or exacerbate the symptoms of a developmental disorder or mental illness. The form called encephalitis lethargica (“sleeping sickness”) results in a set of Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms called postencephalitic parkinsonianism. In some cases encephalitis causes death. Treatment of encephalitis must begin as early as possible to avoid potentially serious and life-long effects. Depending on the cause of the inflammation, this may include antibiotics, anti-viral medications, and anti-inflammatory drugs. If brain damage results from encephalitis, therapy (such as physical therapy or cognitive restoration therapy) may help patients regain lost functions.
Ependyma: the cellular covering (lining) of the brain’s ventricular cavities. These are ciliated low cuboidal cells that facilitate movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the ventricles.
Forensic Pathology: the medical subspecialty within pathology devoted to the medical-legal aspects of pathology. Forensic pathologists usually function as a medical examiner’s pathologist and have special statutory responsibilities.
G-force: the force of gravity. Acceleration or deceleration is often expressed in Gs, representing the added “gravity” force acting on a body. If someone weighed 100 lbs. at rest, and experienced a force of 3G acceleration, they would experience the feeling of weight of 300 lbs. Tissues of the body have tolerance limits to G forces, and these limits are known.
Gestational Diabetes: A form of diabetes mellitus that appears during pregnancy (gestation) in a woman who previously did not have diabetes and usually goes away after the baby is born.
Factors that increase the chance of a woman’s developing gestational diabetes include her age (if she’s over 25), her ethnic background (high-risk groups include Hispanic, African American, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous Australian), her weight (if she’s overweight), her family history (if there’s a relative with diabetes) and her history of past pregnancies (with gestational diabetes in a past pregnancy, or if she’s had a stillbirth or a very large baby).
Gestational diabetes is treatable, especially if detected early in pregnancy. Treatment greatly lowers the baby’s chances of having problems. With treatment, most women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Without treatment, mothers with gestational diabetes tend to have very large babies and a harder time with labor and delivery. .
The children of mothers with gestational diabetes are at higher risk for respiratory distress syndrome (which makes it hard for the newborn baby to breathe); they are more likely to be overweight as children or adults: and they are at higher risk for getting diabetes themselves as they grow older.
Hematoidin: a yellow pigment not containing iron that is the product of blood degradation.
Hemosiderin: a brown-yellow pigment that contains iron and is a product of degradation of blood, usually found in scavenger cells called “sideophages.” Generally an indicator that the hematoma is more than 3 days old.
Herniation: a breakthrough of a body organ or part of an organ through a tear or part of a membrane, muscle, or other tissue.
Hydrocephaly (Hydrocephalus): too much cerebrospinal fluid in and/or over the brain that is usually associated with increased intracranial pressure in children.
Hypoxic Ischemia: injury from lack of blood and/or oxygen to the brain. Often mistaken for diffuse axonal injury.
Hypoxia: not enough oxygen to an organ.
Impact: force directed against a body by any means (can include blow, falls and other impacts).
Infaret: dead and dying tissue due to insufficient blood or nutrient supply.
Ischemia: not enough blood supply to an organ.
Jaundice: Yellow staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) by abnormally high blood levels of the bile pigment bilirubin. The yellowing extends to other tissues and body fluids.
Laceration: a cutting type injury to the skin or other organ.
Lucid Interval: an asymptomatic period of time after a subdural is incurred.
Manner of Death: a quasi-legal determination stipulated by statute of how the death occurred (homicide, suicide, accident, natural disease, undetermined or judicial-execution). The Medical Examiner is empowered and required by stature to determine manner of death. Hospital pathologists generally do not determine this.
Mass Effect: damage to the brain due to the bulk of a tumor, the blockage of fluid or excess accumulation of fluid within the skull.
MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging): a noninvasive diagnostic technique that produces computerized images of internal body tissues and is based on nuclear magnetic resonance of atoms within the body induced by the application of radio waves.
Neomembrane: a membrane of inflammatory cells, reactive cells (fibroblasts), newly formed vessels and scar tissue (collagen) formed in the course of time after a subdural hemorrhage occurs. Generally an indicator that the hematoma is not acute (more than 3 days old). The age of this process can be estimated microscopically.
Neuropathology: the medical subspecialty of the pathology devoted to the diseases of the nervous system.
Nuchal Cord: Referring to the cord wrapped around the neck at birth.
Oligiohydramnios: Scant amniotic fluid: less than usual.
Parenchyma: working tissue of an organ, as opposed to supporting or connective tissue
Pathology: the medical specialty devoted to understanding the mechanisms, causes and manifestations of disease processes (cancer, infection, traumatic injury, toxic injury, congenital anomalies, etc.). Pathologists do autopsies, examine tissues from surgery, and use a variety of laboratory technologies and research methods. Pathologists generally do not treat patients or admit them to hospital.
Platelets: microscopic cellular elements of the blood vital to clotting. normal platelets range from 150-400 for babies. abnormal platelets levels can indicate a coagulopathy.
Polyhydramnios: Too much amniotic fluid.
Retina: the light-sensing element in the back of the eye.
Subacute Subdural Hematoma: Subdural hematoma that is 4-10 days old. There are clinical, gross, radiological and pathological characteristics for these.
Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: bleeding in the subarachnoid space (space normally filled with cerebrospinal fluid, below the arachnoid membrane and above the brain.
Subcutaneous: under the skin.
Subdural Hemorrhage or Hematoma: bleeding beneath the dura and above the arachnoid and brain of whatever age.
Subgaleal Hemorrhage: bleeding in the deep tissues on the underside of the scalp just above the skull.
Tachycardia: A rapid heart rate, usually defined as greater than 100 beats per minute.
Tentorium: a fold of the dura mater which separates the cerebellum from the cerebrum and often encloses a process or plate of the skull called the bony tentorium.
Transverse Lie Presentation: means the fetus is oriented from one side of the mother to the other and neither the head nor the butt is coming out first.
Unilateral: Having, or relating to, one side. Unilateral is as opposed, for example, to bilateral (which means having, or relating to, two sides).
Vertex Birth Presentation: the top of the baby’s head comes first at delivery.
WBC: white blood cell count
Useful Medical Abbreviations
WBC: White Blood cell count
SDH: Subdural Hemorrhage or Hematoma
SAH: Subarachnoid Hematoma
RH: Retinal Hemorrhage