causes of death in head injury
Causes of death following head injury include the following;
- raised intra-cranial pressure/ brain swelling/ herniation
- hypoxic/ ischaemic injury (e.g. following airway obstruction post-injury, due to aspiration of gastric contents (or blood etc) or postural asphyxia as a result of being pinned upside down in a vehicle following a road traffic collision, for example
- diffuse brain injury (vascular or axonal)
- blood loss (e.g. following a scalp laceration)
- infection (meningitis or pneumonia)
- epilepsy/ dementia
alcohol and head injury
Case reports in the forensic literature describe the adverse synergistic effect of moderate alcohol intoxication - blood alcohol concentration typically in the region of 200 mg/dL – and moderate head/ facial injury; typically soft tissue injuries sustained from blows from fists or a ‘kicking’.
Concussive brain injury (a transient interruption of brain functions) does not usually result in apnea, whilst 'concussion with alcohol' does, resulting in lethal respiratory depression.
It has also been postulated that post-traumatic bradycardia may result in sudden death following a mild head injury, possibly exacerbated by alcohol.
herniation sysndromes - anatomy