Radiologic and physical findings identify elder abuse

Radiologists in Toronto have begun to identify a pattern of injuries that may be indicative of elder abuse, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

According to lead researcher Kieran J. Murphy, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.S.I.R., interim radiologist-in-chief at University Health Network in Toronto, Canada, only 2 percent of physical elder abuse is reported by clinicians.

"Unlike cases of child abuse, there is very little information available on this subject," Dr. Murphy said. "It's a much neglected area."

To aid radiologists in identifying potential cases of elder abuse, Dr. Murphy conducted a literature review and searched databases for elder abuse cases to locate radiologic evidence of the types of injuries found in abuse victims over 60 years old.

An analysis of more than 1,100 cases revealed that the most frequent injuries among abused elderly were to the face; dental trauma; subdural hematoma, which is collection of blood in the space between the outer layer and middle layers of the covering of the brain; eye and larynx trauma; rib fractures and upper extremity injuries.

The analysis also revealed that elderly victims of abuse were most often in a home setting being cared for by non-professionals.

"In the cases we reviewed, the abused elderly were often socially isolated, depressed and unkempt," Dr. Murphy said. "The caregivers were not only financially dependent on the in their care, they were often dealing with their own substance abuse problem."

Compared to who were accidently injured, the abused elderly patients were more likely to have brain, head and neck injuries. Autopsy studies revealed that subdural were the cause of death in one-third of cases.

" need to be aware of the pattern of injuries frequently seen in the abused elderly," Dr. Murphy said. "More importantly, we need to integrate the physical and radiological findings with the social context of the patient to help identify those at risk."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Elder abuse affects Latinos disproportionately

Jul 19, 2012

A sobering new study by researchers from the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology finds that elder abuse in low-income Latino communities goes largely unreported. More than 40 percent of Latino elders ...

Serious child abuse injuries creep up, study shows

Oct 01, 2012

A new Yale School of Medicine study shows that cases of serious physical abuse in children, such as head injuries, burns, and fractures, increased slightly by about 5% in the last 12 years. This is in sharp contrast to data ...

Recommended for you

India to raise age for tobacco purchases, ban single sales

1 hour ago

Health campaigners Wednesday welcomed India's plans to raise the age for tobacco purchases to 25 and ban unpackaged cigarettes, hailing them as a major step towards stopping nearly one million tobacco-related deaths a year.

Americans are smoking less than ever

1 hour ago

The percentage of Americans who are smokers has fallen to an all-time low, now representing just 17.8 percent of the population, a study released Tuesday found.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.