Eye
Orbit and optic nerve
Shaken baby syndrome and optic nerve


Topic Completed: 1 February 2014

Minor changes: 19 February 2020

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PubMed Search: shaken baby syndrome optic

Nat Pernick, M.D.
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Cite this page: Pernick N. Orbit and optic nerve: shaken baby syndrome and optic nerve. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/eyeorbitshakenbabysyndrome.html. Accessed May 29th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Defined as intentional whiplash movement of infant's head
  • Can be detected by beta-amyloid precursor protein immunohistochemistry to identify optic nerve damage in optic disk or distal optic nerve
  • Takes at least 2 hours to develop, staining intensity should exceed background
  • Also have severe bilateral, often multilayered retinal hemorrhages
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Fig 1A: intense beta amyloid precursor protein staining in distal optic nerve caudal to lamina cribrosa; B: high power shows axonal beading and small swellings; C: H&E does not show axonal swellings; D: neurofilament stain doesn't detect axonal injury
Fig 2: beta amyloid precursor protein of retina shows extensive focal axonal injury within nerve fiber layer
Fig 3: distal optic nerve of SIDS infant shows weak beta amyloid precursor protein staining without beading or swelling

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