Introduction Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) diving deaths have always been a challenge for forensic pathologists. Post-mortem computer tomography (PMCT) allows intracorporeal gas visualization, contributing to identify the cases in which the cause of death is arterial gas embolism (AGE). However, in the literature, it is indicated to perform the radiological examination within 24 h after death. Materials and methods In this retrospective study, 32 cases of death who had undergone PMCT 24-48 h after death/corpse finding between January 2011 and March 2021 were analyzed, including ten cases of SCUBA divers who died of AGE. All cases' radiological images were reviewed to localize the intracorporeal gas distribution alongside other findings that are usually related to SCUBA diving death. A semi-quantitative evaluation was also performed. Results Most of the divers showed gas within the left heart and the arteries. In addition, the semi-quantitative evaluation revealed that the divers presented a higher mean amount of intraarterial gas compared to the fresh corpses. On the other hand, the putrefied corpses presented gas within the portal system and generalized subcutaneous emphysema with higher frequency and quantity than the divers and fresh corpses. Conclusion Our cases suggested that the PMCT, even when performed 24-48 h after death, remains a valuable tool to diagnose AGE in cases of SCUBA diving deaths. In addition, with the limit of the small sample size, our data showed that at least a medium quantity of intraarterial gas, when not associated with a high amount of gas within the portal system and subcutaneous emphysema, could be considered a diagnostic criterion of AGE.

Post-mortem computer tomography in ten cases of death while diving: a retrospective evaluation

La Russa, Raffaele;Karaboue, Michele;Turillazzi, Emanuela;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Introduction Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) diving deaths have always been a challenge for forensic pathologists. Post-mortem computer tomography (PMCT) allows intracorporeal gas visualization, contributing to identify the cases in which the cause of death is arterial gas embolism (AGE). However, in the literature, it is indicated to perform the radiological examination within 24 h after death. Materials and methods In this retrospective study, 32 cases of death who had undergone PMCT 24-48 h after death/corpse finding between January 2011 and March 2021 were analyzed, including ten cases of SCUBA divers who died of AGE. All cases' radiological images were reviewed to localize the intracorporeal gas distribution alongside other findings that are usually related to SCUBA diving death. A semi-quantitative evaluation was also performed. Results Most of the divers showed gas within the left heart and the arteries. In addition, the semi-quantitative evaluation revealed that the divers presented a higher mean amount of intraarterial gas compared to the fresh corpses. On the other hand, the putrefied corpses presented gas within the portal system and generalized subcutaneous emphysema with higher frequency and quantity than the divers and fresh corpses. Conclusion Our cases suggested that the PMCT, even when performed 24-48 h after death, remains a valuable tool to diagnose AGE in cases of SCUBA diving deaths. In addition, with the limit of the small sample size, our data showed that at least a medium quantity of intraarterial gas, when not associated with a high amount of gas within the portal system and subcutaneous emphysema, could be considered a diagnostic criterion of AGE.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11369/428012
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