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Type: Journal article
Title: The pathological features and circumstances of death of lethal crush/traumatic asphyxia in adults - A 25-year study
Author: Byard, R.
Wick, R.
Simpson, E.
Gilbert, J.
Citation: Forensic Science International, 2006; 159(2-3):200-205
Publisher: Elsevier Sci Ireland Ltd
Issue Date: 2006
ISSN: 0379-0738
Abstract: A 25-year retrospective study of cases of crush/traumatic asphyxia autopsied at Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, Australia from 1980 to 2004 was undertaken. A total of 79 cases of crush asphyxia was found consisting of 63 males (80%) and 16 females (20%). The age range of the males was 19-86 years (mean=41.8 years) and of the females was 19-75 years (mean=38.6 years). In 18 cases the exact circumstances of death were unclear, leaving 61 cases in which details of the fatal episode were available. Major categories included vehicle crashes (N=37), industrial accidents (N=9), farm accidents (N=6) and entrapment beneath vehicles (N=5). Forty of the 79 victims (51%) had only very minor bruises and abrasions; 28 (35%) had evidence of chest compression with rib and sternal fractures and large areas of soft tissue bruising of the chest; 7 cases (9%) had other significant injuries or findings that had contributed to death. All of these victims had signs of crush asphyxia in the form of intense purple congestion and swelling of the face and neck, and/or petechial hemorrhages of the skin of the face and/or conjunctivae. The pattern of pathological findings of crush asphyxia was not influenced by the presence or absence of concomitant serious or lethal injuries. In 4 cases (5%) where the circumstances of the lethal episode were those of crush asphyxia there were no characteristic pathological findings. This study has shown that a high percentage of crush asphyxias may be caused by vehicle accidents. It has also demonstrated that on occasion fatal crush asphyxia may have to be a diagnosis of exclusion, made only when there are characteristic death scene findings, and no evidence of lethal natural diseases or injuries at autopsy, with negative toxicological screening.
Keywords: crush asphyxia; traumatic asphyxia; petechiae
RMID: 0020060813
DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2005.08.003
Appears in Collections:Anatomical Sciences publications

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