Forensic pathology

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Forensic pathology is figuring-out why, when, where and how people died, if the manner of death is not obviously natural.

Contents

Death categorization

Deaths are categorized foremost by the manner of death. The manner is the single most important legal categorization for a death. The cause of death is important for understanding what happened. The mechanism of death is the pathophysiologic reason for death and can be inferred from the cause.

Examples:

Cause of death Manner of death Mechanism of death Scenario
Electrocution accident cardiac arrhythmia man struck by lightening
Hyperthermia accident arrhythmias, seizures[1] man lost on hiking trip in desert
Epidural hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head homicide brain stem compression or cerebral vascular spasm leading to autonomic dysregulation man hit with a hammer in the head
Carbon monoxide toxicity suicide cerebral hypoxia (CO binds to hemoglobin impairing oxygen transport) woman found in car with suicide note, long history of depression, previous suicide attempts
Atherosclerotic heart disease natural cardiac arrhythmia due to ischemia man found dead in bed, apartment locked, 95% stenosis of LMCA at autopsy, no other significant autopsy findings

Manner of death

The manner of death is a legislatively defined classification. It varies slightly between jurisdictions.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Manner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Homicide
 
Suicide
 
Natural
 
Accident
 
Undetermined

Notes:

  • Undetermined - is a waste basket category.
  • Homicide - not necessarily murder.
  • Can be group into three:
    1. Intent to kill (homicide, suicide).
    2. No intent to kill (natural, accidental).
    3. Undetermined.

Mechanism of death

This is occasionally of interest. It is usually based on physiology.

The mechanism is often asked for asphyxial deaths. The short answer it is: brain stem hypoxia due to ischemia caused by venous obstruction in the neck.[2][3]

Cause of death

  • Abbreviated COD.

General

  • The cause of death should be what started the sequence of events that lead to death.

Word form for cause of death

Examples:

  • C. difficile colitis complicating antibiotic treatment for a dental abscess.[4]
  • Complications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy for ascending cholangitis with mesothelioma and atherosclerotic heart disease.[5]

General forms:

  • A complicating B for the treatment of C.
  • A complicating B for the treatment of C with D and E.

World Health Organization form for cause of death

General form:[6]

  • 1a = immediate cause of death.
  • 1b = what lead to the immediate cause of death.
  • 1c... 1[x] -- where 'x' is the last letter used; 1x = What started the sequence of events. This is known as the underlying cause of death.
  • 2 = contributing factors.

Example 1:

Example 2:

Natural deaths

  • The cause should be a medical diagnosis, not the mechanism (e.g. cardiac arrest, cachexia, kidney failure).
  • The mechanism is irrelevant.

Notes:

Legal frame work

General

  • In Ontario, the manner is determined by the coroner.
  • Coroners, in Ontario, are MDs -- usually family docs.
  • The cause (e.g. "gunshot wound to the head") is determined by the pathologist.

NB - the word coroner is not synoymous with MD. British Columbia has coroners that aren't MDs.

Case classification (Ontario)

Cases are classified as:

  • A case = homicide and suspicious for homicide, (all) gunshot wounds.
  • B case = adult, non-suspicious.
  • C case = child, non-suspicious.

Notes:

  • All A cases are done at regional centers by certified forensic pathologists.

Forensic golden triangle

Forensic diagnostic triangle

Most general differential diagnosis:

Difficulties arise when more than one point of the triangle is in play, i.e. the forensic pathologist has to earn their pay when an old man with a heart condition is known to be into erotic asphyxia, and dies after doing some drugs and whilst indulging in erotic asyphxiation with a friend...

  • If he had an arrhythmia and there was no stressor... natural death.
  • If he over did it with the drugs, it is an overdose, ergo accidental.
  • If he did the erotic asphyxia a bit too long it is accidental.
  • If the friend held the plastic bag over his head just a bit long to asphyxiate him... it is a homicide.
  • If he was a lone and depressed... he might have been trying to kill himself, ergo suicide.

Death-related changes

Rigor mortis

Definition:

  • Muscle rigidity following death (caused by depletion of ATP).

Dependent on:

  • Temperature of patient at death.
  • Temperature variations in the environment since death.
  • Presence of some medical conditions.
  • May never develop!

It is the explanation for post-mortem goose bumps.

Summary

  • Its onset & presence is highly variable.
  • Forensic pathologists do not comment on time of death, as the above times are subject to such a large degree of variability, i.e. the estimates are essentially useless.

Time estimates

A crude guess for time of death based on rigor:[8]

  • Warm & flaccid <3 h.
  • Warm & stiff 3-8 h.
  • Cold & stiff 8-36 h.
  • Cold & flaccid > 36 h.

Notes:

  • Memory device: 3s: cut points are at 3 hours, 1/3 of a day, 3/2 of a day.

Livor mortis

Definition: pooling of blood in the dependent position, due to blood stasis.

  • Onset may preceed death in the context of congestive heart failure.
  • If pressure is applied to a dependent area-- no blood can enter there; thus, a pressure area is blanched (i.e. white).
  • Can be seen externally, i.e. on the skin, and internally.
  • Liver mortis becomes fixed some time after death.
    • Liver mortis does NOT tell one the position the decedent was in at the time of death-- only the position the decedent was at the time liver mortis became fixed. If the decedent wasn't moved liver mortis can help determine the position the person was in when they died.

Averages:

  • Start: 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • Fixed: 8-12 hours.

DDx:

  • Blunt force trauma - especially to the inexperienced eye.
  • Post-mortem hypostatic bruising.

Tache noire

Literally black spot.

Features:[9]

  • Brown/black horizontal line of the eye due to drying.
    • Arises if the eye remains open after death.
    • May mimic a traumatic injury.

Images:

Post-mortem decomposition/preservation

One of three things happens post-mortem:[11]

  1. Mummification.
  2. Putrefaction (skeletonisation).
    • Green colour due to break down of hemoglobin (biliverdin).[12]
  3. Adipocere - transformation into wax (due to anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis of fat).
    • Useless for toxicology and DNA.
  • A mix of the above often occur, i.e. part of the corpse is mummified... part of it decomposed through putrefaction.

Mummification:

  • Predominant in dry environments.
  • Body becomes dry and leathery.

Putrefaction:

  • Body wet/moist after death -- ideal environment for putrefactive bacteria and organisms.

Artefacts

  • Prinsloo and Gordon artefact = artefactual post-morten haemorrhage on the posterior surface of the esophagus.[13]
    • Minimized by removing cranial contents & thoracic contents before undertaking neck dissection.[14]
  • Artefactual fractures (see fractures).
  • Dilated anus (in isolation).[15][16]
  • Towel clip injury, usu. paired (in organ donors) - may be mistaken for an electroshock weapon (e.g. Taser) wound.[17]
  • Subclavian stab for vascular access - may be confused with a gunshot exit wound.

Infants

  • Lumpy neck - small superficial nodules on anterior neck ~2-5 mm (???).[18]
  • Intussusception of small bowel - often multiple.

Wounds

General

  • Wound - definition: defect in skin or mucous membrane[19] - usually due to trauma.

Special types of wounds:

Gross pathologic classification of injuries

Mnemonic CALI:

  • Contusion - "bruise", hematoma.
    • Age (usual colour change sequence): red, blue, green, yellow, brown.[20]
    • Etiology: bleeding from arterioles or venules (not capillaries).[21]
  • Abrasion - "scrape", e.g. motorcyclist slide across the roadway... skin scraped-off.
    • Can be subclassified as brush abrasions (has skin tags) and crush abrasions (do not have skin tags).
      • Skin tags suggest directionality; they are found at the distal point / point of last contact.[21]
  • Laceration - "tear", indicates blunt force trauma; contact point may be distant from where skin splits.
  • Incised - "cut", e.g. caused by a knife,[22] subdivided as follows:
    1. "Cut" or "slash" = length > depth.
    2. "Stab" = depth > length.
    3. "Chop" = typically have a contusion at the margin of the wound, classically caused by an axe. May be caused by a propeller.[23]

Images

DDx

How to decide what you're looking at:

  • Contusion:
    • Can be demonstrated histologically... there are extravascular RBCs.
      • If pre-morten there is vital reaction, i.e. WBCs come to clean-up the trauma.
    • If the post mortem interval is not known and long-- differentiation from decomposition may be non-trivial/impossible.
  • Abrasion vs. contusion:
    • Contusions skin is intact... in abrasion it is not.
    • Abrasions and contusions may be co-localized, i.e. in the same place.
  • Laceration vs. incision:
    • Lacerations have "bridges", incisions do NOT have bridges.
      • Bridges are fine strands of tissue that cross the long axis of the skin defect.
        • You can think of the wound as partially "sutured" by the bridges of tissue.
    • Lacerations are usually associated with a contusion and/or crush and have an irregular margin.[24]
    • Lacerations are classically on the skull and face. They are rarely on the abdomen.

Wound dating

  • Colour is somewhat useful for contusions (bruises).
  • Post-mortem injuries tend to be orange-yellow.[25]
  • Wounds age is difficult to determine as wound healing is affected by a large number of variables.
  • Old wounds (scars), generally, cannot be dated - one can only say they are old.

Microscopic

Wounds can be grouped into:

  • Pre-mortem.
  • Post-mortem.

Signs a wound was inflicted during life:

  • Blood.
    • Hypostasis/decomposition can mess with this, i.e. blood oozing out of vessels post-mortem shouldn't be called an injury.
    • Hemosiderin demonstrated by an iron stain - hard sign.
  • Inflammation:[26]
    • PMNs 6-24 hours after injury.
    • PMNs replaced monocytes in 24-48 hours.

Stains

  • Iron stain for siderophages (hemosiderin-laden macrophages) -- presence suggests 2-3 days or older.[27]

Bone fractures

  • AKA fractures.
  • AKA fracture of bone.

Artefactual fractures

  • "Undertaker's fracture" - cervical fracture due to rough handling.[28]
  • Basal skull fracture due to opening of skull.[29]
    • Classically does not cross sella turcica.
    • Notably absent features of a real (ante-mortem) fracture: hematoma, brain injury.
    • Mechanism to explain trauma not present in history; a fall/tripping not sufficient.

Healing of fractures

Simplified classification

  • Primary callus (cartilaginous) - early.
  • Secondary callus (bone) - late.

Microscopic

Features:

  • Fragmentation of bone.
  • +/-Dead bone = lacunae have no osteocytes.[30]
    • Takes days for osteocyte loss.
  • +/-Inflammatory cells.
  • +/-Hemosiderin-laden macrophages.
  • +/-Osteoblastic rimming.

DDx:

  • Fracture secondary to a tumour:
    • Metastatic carcinoma.
    • Osteosarcoma - typically does not have osteoblastic rimming.

Notes:

  • Radiology is not good at dating fratures;[31] however, it is good at finding 'em.

Pattern and cause

Child abuse-related

  • Paravertebral (bony) nodules = classic location for rib fractures in child abuse.
  • Metaphyseal fractures - "classical metaphyseal lesions".[32]

Motor vehicle versus pedestrian

If the pedestrian is standing during the initial impact one classically finds, at bumper level, a lower limb fracture with a Messerer wedge (German: Messerer-Kiel);[33] the wedge points in the direction of the (impact) force.

Location or type

Orbital floor fractures

General

  • Classically due to fights, followed by traffic accidents.[35]
  • Thought to result from loading on the orbital rim directly or the orbit - both are transmitted to the orbital floor.[34]

Note:

  • The orbital floor tends to the be weaker than other components of the orbital cavity wall; thus, it is the most common site of fracture in the orbital cavity wall.

Basal skull fracture

General

Etiology:

  • Blunt force trauma - high energy & velocity.
    • Seen in motor vehicle collisions, descent from height.

Clinical/external findings:

  • Raccoon eyes = periorbital ecchymosis.
  • Battle sign = mastoid ecchymosis.
    • Associated with orbital roof fractures.[36]
  • Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea.
  • Hemorrhage from nose and ears.
  • Hemotympanum.

Note:

  • There is a dictum that states bilateral petrous bone fractures are due to impact to the side of the head - it isn't true.[37]

Hinge fracture of the skull

  • A special type of basal skull fracture.
  • Complete hinge fractures are considered severe; they are a 4 on the abbreviated injury scale (AIS).[38]
  • Classically due to a blow to the chin - resulting in a fracture across the medial fossa and sella turcica.[39]

Pathologic fracture

  • A fracture due to an underlying pathology.

Hip fractures

Autopsy

The autopsy article covers procedural things. Heart dissection is covered in the heart article.

Types

Forensic vs. hospital:

  • Forensic autopsies are focused on the external exam.

Marking conventions for common findings

There are no universal marking conventions for injuries.

One system in use (the Rose system) is:[40]

  • One red line for an incised wound.
  • Multiple closely spaced red lines, i.e. red hatching, for abrasions.
  • Multiple closely-spaced blue lines, i.e. blue hatching, for contusions.

The above makes sense in that:

  • Abrasions and incised wounds typically bleed - are red.
  • Contusions (bruises) don't classically bleed and are classically blue.

External exam findings

Colour of the corpse:[41]

Autopsy terminology

  • Gutter butter = adipose tissue in a decomp case; looks like butter topping put on popcorn. A Toronto-ism.
  • Gutter blood = blood in the empty thorax - after extraction of the organ block.
  • Tardieu spots = postmortem hypostatic hemorrhages;[43] look like petechiae - in dependent areas, i.e. in the zone of livity.

Autopsy on decomposed remains

  • AKA "decomp autopsy" or simply "decomp".

General

  • Histology usually very limited or useless.
  • Often done to exclude trauma.
  • Typical scenario: decedent lives alone -- body not discovered for prolonged period of time.
  • More likely to be a negative autopsy than non-decomp cases.

Suspicious decomp

Common sense rules for if skin is not intact:

  1. Blunt dissection (to avoid artefactual injuries to the bones).
  2. Clean the bones (not with bleach)
    • Bones cooked for 1+ hours... with frequent checks to avoid that they become mushy.

Causes of death

Environmental

They include:

Gunshot wounds

Gunshot wounds (GSWs) are a relatively uncommon finding in Canada. They are dealt within a separate article.

Asphyxia

  • This is a big topic and covered by a separate article.

Classification

  • Strangulation - where there are signs of neck compression.
    • Includes: ganging, ligature strangulation and manual strangulation.
  • Chemical asphyxia - usually no signs of neck compression.
    • Includes: carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Suffocation - usually no signs of neck compression.

Blunt force injury

  • AKA blunt force trauma.

General

Classification:

Weapons:

  • Fist.
  • Foot.
  • Baseball bat... pretty much anything.
  • Beer bottles are common... and strong enought to fracture a skull.
    • Empty bottles have a higher fracture energy than full ones.[44]

Cause of death

Commotio cordis

Features:[45][46]

  • Often negative autopsy; no cardiac pathology.
  • Etiology: arrhythmia.
  • History: trauma to chest.

Note:

Scenarios

Motor vehicle collisions

  • Pedestrian vs. motor vehicle: heel to injury measurement, remember to include the thickness of the heel/sole of shoe.[48]
  • Dicing injuries: tempered glass used in side window construction fragments into cubes when fractured causing L-shaped wounds.

Descent from height

  • Relatively common way to suicide.
    • May be an accident, e.g. decedent thought they can fly (due to a psychosis).
    • May be a homicide, e.g. decedent was pushed.

Gross

Features:

  • Multiple injuries - often including multiple fractures, e.g. basal skull fracture, flail chest.
  • +/-Haemothorax - can be proved with a large bore needle.
    • Sufficient for cause of death - can be used to do an abbreviated post-mortem.
  • +/-Haemoaspiration (due to facial trauma) - presence suggest that decendent was alive shortly after landing/impact and thus likely very alive during the descent.
    • Patchy red centrilobular spots on gross examination.

Injury patterns

Seromuscular tear

  • AKA seatbeat syndrome.
  • Intestinal injury associated with motor vehicle collisions and more specifically seatbelts.

Features:

  • Def'n: separation of (inner) muscularis propria from submucosa.[49]

Bite injury

  • A special type of blunt force trauma.
  • May be seen in the context of a sexual assault.
  • A forensic dentist may be able to assist.

In the context of a suspicious case:

  • Human vs. animal.
  • Bite marks, as evidence, have a limited value for identification purposes.
    • In the context of identifying a potential perpetrator, it is essential to swab the bite mark for saliva, which is rich in DNA.[50]

Images

Aortic trauma

  • Classic location of transection of the aorta is distal the the left subclavian branch point near the insertion of the ligamentum arteriosum (e.g. peri-isthmus).[51]
  • Aortic dissection due to trauma is often catastrophic. Several mechanisms have been proposed and there is a body of trauma biomechanics research that explores this.

Trauma with delayed death

  • Epidural hemorrhage with a lucid interval.
  • Subcapsular splenic hematoma with subsequent rupture.
  • Subcapsular hepatic hematoma with subsequent rupture.
  • Aortic dissection with subsequent rupture.

Sharp force injury

  • AKA sharp force trauma.

General

Injuries caused by:[52]

  • Knife.
  • Scissors - classic "Z" shape.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Glass.

Gross

Features:[52]

  • Incised wound (see: Classification of wounds).
    • "Clean" edge (no contusion, no abrasion).
    • Well-demarcated edges.
  • +/-Hilt mark.
    • Due to contact of hilt.

Subclassified into - see classification of wounds:

  • Cut/slash.
  • Stab.
  • Chop - a mixed injury, sharp force and blunt force.

Images

Head injuries

Accidental vs. intentional

Features of non-accidental injuries:[53]

  • Lacerations:
    • More than three.
    • Length >= 7 cm or more.
    • Location:
      • Above hat brim line (HBL).
      • Ear.
      • Left-sided.
  • Fractures:
    • Comminuted or depressed calvarial fractures.
    • Location:
      • Fractures located above the HBL.
      • Left-sided fractures.
      • Facial fractures.
  • Contusions:
    • Greater than four facial contusions.
  • Other:
    • "Postcranial osseous" [sic] (non-rib, non-skull) and/or visceral trauma.

Note: The paper doesn't give odds ratios for the the different features -- like in the rational clinical exam series... it is a shame.

Diffuse axonal injury

  • Abbreviated DAI.

General

Clinical:

  • Vegetative state.
  • Imaging findings: no anatomical cause apparent (in some cases).

Etiology:

  • Hypothesized to arise from high shear loading of white mater tracts.[54]

Gross

Macroscopic findings:[54]

  • Tears - corpus callosum.
  • Haemorrhage.

Other (chronic) changes:[55][citation needed]

  • Thalamus - shrinkage.
  • Enlargement of third ventricle.

DDx (medical imaging):[56]

Microscopic

Microscopic findings:[54]

  • Axonal retraction balls.
  • "Microglial stars".
  • Degeneration of fibre tracts.

Grading:[57]

  • Grade 1: only microscopic findings.
  • Grade 2: macroscopic corpus callosum injury + microscopic findings of DAI.
  • Grade 3: macroscopic corpus callosum and midbrain injuries + microscopic findings of DAI.

Stains

IHC

  • Beta-amyloid precursor protein (beta-APP or APP).[59][60]
  • NF.[60]

Intracranial hemorrhage

Intracranial hemorrhage may be a consequence of blunt force trauma.

Classification:

Cerebral contusion

General

  • Due to blunt force trauma.

Gross

Features:

  • Focal superficial hemorrhage.
  • Location, usually, frontal lobe and temporal lobe.[61]

Notes:

  • Classically, come in pairs:[61]
    1. Coup contusion - at the site of the (primary) impact
    2. Contrecoup contusion - secondary internal impact.
    • Example - fall on back of head:
      • Occipital lobe contusion = coup contusion.
      • Frontal lobe contusion = contrecoup contusion.
  • May be associated with contusions of the:[62]
    • Deep brain structures, known as an "intermediary coup".
    • Dorsal surface of the cerebral hemispheres, known as "gliding contusions".
  • Resolve as a yellow lesion (like at other sites), known as a plaque jaune in the brain.
    • Classically, inferior aspect of the frontal lobe.

DDx:

  • Hemorrhagic stroke - usually temporal lobe and/or parietal lobe.

Traumatic brain injury in infants

  • Shaken-impact syndrome, AKA shaken baby syndrome.

Commotio medullaris

Features:[63]

  • Sudden death after head trauma that is insufficient to explain death.
  • Etiology: unknown - thought to be related to apnea.

Note:

Excited delirium

General

  • Diagnosis is considered somewhat controversial outside of the forensic pathology community.[65]
  • The diagnosis has garnered attention in the context of electroshock weapon use, as Taser International (a manufacturer of electroshock weapons) has often ascribed the deaths involving its weapons to it - when it is alleged that their electroshock weapon caused the death.
  • There is no "official" definition for excited delirium.
    • Most agree it includes fever.

One paper defines it in relation neuroleptic malignant syndrome:[64]

  • Fever.
  • Disorientation and confusion.
  • Increased energy/superhuman strength.

Excited delirium - hypothesis:

  • Thought to arise in the context of severe chronic mental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) and protracted cocaine binges.[66]
  • Thought to result from alteration of dopamine receptor density. The D2 receptor in particular, which is thought to be important in temperature regulation, is decreased in psychotic cocaine abusers.[64]

Toxicology & biochemistry

General

Things usually collected at autopsy:

  1. Blood in EDTA tube (genetic testing).
  2. Urine toxicology:
    • Useful to evaluate myoglobin.
  3. Vitreous:
    • Biochemistry.
    • Ketones.
    • Urea (???).
  4. Bile:[67]
    • Acetaminophen overdoses.
    • Opiate overdoses.

Myoglobin DDx:

  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
  • Malignant hyperthermia.
  • Serotonin syndrome.

Biochemistry

  • Diabetes mellitus:[68]
    • Plasma:
      • Hemoglobin A1c - increased.
      • Acetone - increased.
      • Beta-hydroxybutyrate - increased.
        • Also increased in alcoholic ketoacidosis (though ketones low).
    • Urine:
      • Aceto-acetate - increased.

Death by insulin overdose:[69]

  • C-peptide - low.
  • Insulin - high.

Serum

  • Potassium - rises quickly and rapidly after death; completely useless.
  • Sodium - tends to decrease after death; usually useless.
  • Glucose - drops quickly; useless unless sky high.
  • Urea, creatinine and urate - stable for ~48 hours post-mortem.[70]

Vitreous

  • Creatinine and urea - approximate those at time of death.[70]
  • Glucose - used to assess for hyperglycemia (due to diabetic coma) in life.[71]

Toxicology

  • Should be submitted with anatomical findings and history.

Common submissions:

  1. Alcohol only.
  2. Suspected toxicologic death - need details on drugs.

Mandated by case

In Ontario, the following are mandated by the case:[72]

  • Sudden death of child under five years old.
  • Workplace death.
  • Fatal motor vehicle collision - esp. driver.
  • Aviation death - esp. pilot & co-pilot.
  • Fire-related death (carboxyhemoglobin).

Toxins

Ethanol toxicity

  • Usually measured (in Canada) as: mass of EtOH (mg)/volume of blood (mL).
    • Limit (Ontario): 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (0.08 gm/100 mL).[73]
    • Enough to be fatal ~ 350 mg/dL ~= 76 mmol/L.
Ethanol intoxication as a table[74]
Concentration Concentration Concentration Concentration
Legal limit - Ontario[75] 80 mg/dL ~17 mmol/L 0.8 g/L 0.08 g/dL
Mild < 180 mg/dL < 39 mmol/L < 1.8 g/L < 0.18 g/dL
Moderate 180-350 mg/dL 39-76 mmol/L 1.8-3.5 g/L 0.18-0.35 g/dL
Severe 350-450 mg/dL 76-98 mmol/L 3.5-4.5 g/L 0.35-0.45 g/dL

Notes:

  • 1 mg/dL = 1/4.607 mmol/L.
    • Ethanol's molar mass = 46.07 g/mol.

Methanol toxicity

  • Minimum lethal dose: 40 mg/dl.[76]
  • Typically an accidental death; person consumes methanol as an ethanol substitute.
  • Blindness.
  • Putamen necrosis (bilateral).[77]
  • +/-Pancreatic injury.[78]

Cocaine toxicity

  • No agreed upon toxic dose[79] - due to tolerance.
  • Usual mechanism cardiac failure.

Features - heart:

Other:

  • +/-Nasal septum perforation.
  • +/-Track marks (other drug use).
  • +/-Finger burns (during preparation of crack).
  • +/-Drug paraphernalia, e.g. crack pipe.

Ethylene glycol toxicity

For a more general discussion see urine crystals
  • Not done in routine toxicology screening.
  • Birefringent calcium oxalate crystals found in kidney (with polarized light).[80]

Anaphylaxis

  • Allergic reaction, e.g. peanut allergy.

Diagnosis - serology:[81]

  • IgE.
  • Tryptase.

Natural death

There is a lot that can kill ya... but only a few of those are quickly, i.e. within a hour or so.

Generally, these things are:

Forensic entomology

  • Study of the bugs that eat corpses.
  • Bugs may hide a wound... it is important to know where they like to be.

Forensic anthropology

Forensic anthropology is looking at skeletal remains. It may be useful of identification and, rarely, the cause of death. Important in skeletonized remains and decomp cases.

Forensic taphonomy

  • The study of post-mortem decay to assist in a medicolegal investigation.
    • Taphonomy = postmortem fate of biological remains; derived from the Greek word taphos (grave).[82]

See also

References

  1. URL: http://www.forensicmed.co.uk/pathology/mechanisms-of-death/. Accessed on: 19 April 2012.
  2. URL: http://www.forensicmed.co.uk/pathology/mechanisms-of-death/. Accessed on: 1 May 2012.
  3. URL: http://www.forensicmed.co.uk/pathology/pressure-to-the-neck/. Accessed on: 1 May 2012.
  4. MSP. 8 September 2010.
  5. TR. 3 September 2010.
  6. Pollanen MS (June 2005). "Deciding the cause of death after autopsy--revisited". J Clin Forensic Med 12 (3): 113–21. doi:10.1016/j.jcfm.2005.02.004. PMID 15914304.
  7. Shannon, P. 2009.
  8. Saukko, Pekka; Knight, Bernard (2004). Knight's Forensic Pathology (3rd ed.). A Hodder Arnold Publication. pp. 61. ISBN 978-0340760444.
  9. 9.0 9.1 URL: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1680032-overview. Accessed on: 6 March 2012.
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External links

Post-mortem changes