Aspiration Deaths Among Adults in Istanbul
Massive aspiration of food is rare, but most common in people under the influence of alcohol or a drug and comatose patients who have impaired functioning of the central nervous system. The finding of small amounts of food material in the airway at autopsy does not indicate the true vital aspiration because of agonal or even early post-mortem overspills. Occlusion of the small airways, mainly the membranous and respiratory bronchioles, partial or total filling of bronchiolar lumen and the alveolar spaces with food or gastric content were typical morphologic findings.
In our 10 year retrospective study we presented the data of 21 male and 4 female cases with a final diagnosis of fatal aspiration in age from 23 to 78 years (45.43±14.61) from the records of Morgue Specialization Department of the Council of Forensic Medicine. 13 cases found death at the scene without an eyewitness. All deaths were accidental in manner except one homicide. Toxicological analysis revealed blood alcohol concentration levels between 161 and 339 mg/dL in 7 cases. Morphine metabolites, benzodiazepine and barbituric acid derivatives, toluene and acetone were detected in 5 subjects. Aspirated materials were food in 14 cases, chewing gum in 3 cases, gastric content in 7 cases and a fabric gag in one case.
The history, other evidence of external vomit on the clothing or immediate surroundings and toxicological analysis are by no means as significant as autopsy findings especially in cases of aspiration.
Key words : adult; aspiration; death; autopsy
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