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Acute pulmonary emphysema in death by hanging: a morphometric digital study.
International Journal of Legal Medicine
Publication types: ARTICLEPublication Status: ppublish
Acute pulmonary emphysema (APE) has been described in cases of mechanical asphyxia such as ligature or manual strangulation but not in cases of hanging. In this study, we wanted to verify by morphometric digital analysis of lung tissue whether APE occurs in death by hanging.We investigated 16 cases of hanging (eight complete, eight incomplete), 10 cases of freshwater drowning (positive control group), and 10 cases of acute external bleeding (negative control group). Tissue sections were obtained from each pulmonary lobe. For each slide, five fields were randomly selected. The area of every alveolar space was measured by image analysis software. The mean alveolar area (MAA) was calculated for each group.In incomplete hanging, MAA was significantly higher than that observed in complete hanging and similar to the one observed in freshwater drowning.APE in cases of incomplete hanging can be considered as a sign of vitality. The high number of conditions that can cause alveolar distension (that were excluded in this study) limits the applicability of this vital sign in the routine forensic practice.
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