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NYC Medical Examiner Peforming Autopsy on Natasha Richardson
Date:3/19/2009

Brain hemorrhage might explain the actress' sudden death, doctors say

THURSDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- With results of an autopsy on Natasha Richardson expected later Thursday, many are wondering how the acclaimed actress apparently suffered devastating brain damage after a seemingly minor fall on a beginner's ski slope in Canada.

The New York City medical examiner was performing the autopsy. The 45-year-old Richardson reportedly suffered a head injury after falling Tuesday during a private lesson at a resort in Quebec, according to the Associated Press.

"If you take the name Natasha Richardson out of the picture and ask how a neurosurgeon would think of a case where someone has a fall which seems fairly minor and then deteriorates a few hours later, quite a few things would go through the surgeon's differential thinking," explained Dr. Arno Fried, chairman of neurosurgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "It's not an uncommon scenario."

A worse-case scenario would be bleeding either on the surface or deep inside the brain, Fried said.

And this does fit with many of the details of Richardson's accident that are known at this time. According to news reports, the award-winning actress fell during a beginner skiing lesson Tuesday afternoon at the Mont Tremblant ski resort north of Montreal. She was not wearing a helmet.

Richardson suffered no immediately apparent injuries and was able to walk and talk right after the accident. "She was awake and alive and laughing and breathing," Catherine Lacasse, the public relations supervisor for Mont Tremblant Resorts, told Bloomberg News. "She refused to see a doctor. She said she was fine and everything was OK."

However, Richardson reported a headache about an hour after the mishap and her condition deteriorated. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, then transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur
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