Physical Injury to the Nervous System JAN E. LEESTMA, MD, MM
Probably the most common neuropathologic condition that confronts the forensic pathologist, and that is thought of as the most typical of forensic problems by the neuropathologist, is some form of head-brain or spinal trauma. The spectrum of traumatic injuries that is observed on any reasonably active forensic service is truly impressive in its diversity. The injuries seen at the autopsy table are a function of many distinct, though interactive, phenomena that need to be considered before a proper and informed interpretation of the case can be made. Obviously, available historical and clinical information needs to be reviewed, along with witness accounts of an incident of what occurred and scene investigation reports. The age of the individual is very important because neural trauma often shows different faces at different age groups. As with any forensic examination, autopsy or not, documentation and notation of all external injuries should be made and preserved in photographs. Polaroid photography is discouraged owing to the generally poor quality of the result and inability to make copies for others without degrading the image. The highly advanced and inexpensive digital photographic methods are preferred, and equipment now available provides excellent results, with the added advantage of the ability to transmit copies electronically and via the Internet. Digital images are now accepted by the courts in most jurisdictions.