Korean J Leg Med.  2019 May;43(2):86-90. 10.7580/kjlm.2019.43.2.86.

Pericardial Tearing by Fall into Water Surface: An Autopsy Case

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Forensic Medicine, Chosun University School of Medicine, Gwangju, Korea. ysk007fm@hotmail.com

Abstract

Injuries caused by free-fall from heights represent a specific form of blunt trauma that can be difficult to interpret, especially when the impact medium is water. On autopsy practice, the immersed bodies with rib fractures and internal organ injuries were often encountered and many studies have reported that impact with the water surface could cause skeletal fracture and visceral organ rupture. The height of the fall and body orientation on impact are the most important factors determining the severity and range of these injuries. In the present case, the victim was a 69-year-old male who weighed 48 kg. Following were the autopsy findings: numerous pin-point epidermal injuries on the body surface (like those due to nibbling by fish), a massive soft tissue hemorrhage in the left upper chest, multiple rib fractures (3rd-7th left ribs), ballooning of the lungs, froth in the trachea and bronchus, pericardial tearing in the right anterolateral side (7-cm long), intra-pericardial hemorrhage, and focal hemorrhage in the adventitia of the intra-pericardial aorta. No sign of an external wound was observed in the left chest area. The cause of death was drowning, and the manner of death was suicide. Unfortunately, the site and height of fall were not investigated.

Keyword

Fall from heights; Blunt trauma; Rib fractures; Drowning; Autopsy

MeSH Terms

Adventitia
Aged
Aorta
Autopsy*
Bronchi
Cause of Death
Drowning
Hemorrhage
Humans
Lung
Male
Rib Fractures
Rupture
Suicide
Tears*
Thorax
Trachea
Water*
Wounds and Injuries
Water
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