ABSTRACT: Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (TSAH) is a life-threatening intracranial bleed often associated with violent assault or motor vehicle accidents. The vast majority of TSAH is associated with rupture of the vertebral artery, although rare cases of traumatic aneurysm of the internal carotid artery (ICA) have been reported. A 27-year-old man was found bleeding and unresponsive following a violent altercation in which he received repeated blows to the head and neck. CT scan showed acute SAH, and death ensued within 24h. Autopsy revealed generalized bruising of the face, a complete midline mandibular fracture, and massive basal SAH resulting from traumatic rupture of the right terminal internal carotid artery at the origin of the middle cerebral artery. Anterior and posterior neck dissection revealed focal hemorrhage associated with the right neural arch of the first cervical vertebra (C1). Autopsy findings were consistent with TSAH resulting from rupture of the ICA following blunt force trauma to the head. The rupture site in TSAH can be difficult to locate, and injury to the ICA may be overlooked if not routinely examined. Dissection of the neck and skull base is required to ensure accurate identification of the site of vascular injury.
Legal Medicine 07/2012; 14(6):328-30.