Non-traumatic causes of perianal hemorrhage and excoriation in the young

Roger Byard; Terence Donald; Guy Rutty
September 2008
Forensic Science, Medicine & Pathology;Sep2008, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p159
Academic Journal
Abstract  The discovery at autopsy or at a death scene of fresh perianal hemorrhage and/or cutaneous excoriation in a young child is always of concern as this raises the possibility of inflicted injury. Three cases are reported where perianal bleeding and excoriation that were initially considered due to possible sexual assault were subsequently found to be of a non-suspicious nature. Case 1: A previously well 18-month-old boy was accidentally hanged. Fresh perianal hemorrhage that had raised the possibility of sexual assault was subsequently shown to be due to perineal streptococcal dermatitis. Case 2: A 2-year-old girl vomited and then stopped breathing. Fresh blood at the anus, that was also thought to be patulous, raised suspicions of sexual assault. At autopsy, however, bleeding around the normally configured anus was due to a midgut volvulus associated with intestinal malrotation. Case 3: A 21-month-old girl was found dead in her cot. Sexual abuse was suspected when lacerations were allegedly found around her anus. These were, however, due to skin lesions from her previously diagnosed ectodermal dysplasia clefting syndrome. Death was due to upper airway obstruction from acute and chronic inflammation. There was no evidence of anogenital trauma or sexual assault in any of the cases. Although inflicted traumatic causes of perianal hemorrhage and excoriation must be judiciously sought in the young, the current cases demonstrate that organic etiologies must also be considered. Perianal infections, congenital malformations of the mesentery and intestines, and inherited disorders of the skin may all produce findings that may initially suggest that sexual assault has occurred. Careful examination with appropriate photography and/or microbiological testing are required.


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