Population-Based Autopsy Study of Traumatic Fatalities
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Injuries result in 5.8 million global fatalities annually and are the leading cause of death in younger individuals. Nevertheless, population-based autopsy investigations on traumatic deaths are scarce. We set out to study all consecutive autopsies on traumatic fatalities performed in a 5-year time segment in Estonia.
After the ethics review board approval, all consecutive autopsies after blunt or penetrating deaths occurring in prehospital or in-hospital settings between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2013, were retrospectively reviewed using the National Forensic Medicine Database. Fatalities due to suffocation, intoxication, burns, or freezing were excluded. Data collection included demographics, mechanism of injuries, cause of death, and a detailed injury profile. Primary outcome was cause of death. Secondary outcomes included injury patterns.
Overall, 1344 autopsies were included. 75.7% of deaths were following blunt trauma. Mean age was 50.4 ± 18.5 years, and 77.1% were male. A total of 71.8% of deaths occurred in the prehospital setting. Accidents, assaults, and suicides constituted 64.4, 20.5, and 15.2% of deaths, respectively. A total of 51.1% of injury fatalities had a positive blood alcohol level (BAL). Mean injury severity score was 39.7 ± 23.9. Most common cause of death was due to head injuries at 50.5% followed by hemorrhage at 30.4%. Cardiac and aortic injuries were the predominant cause of hemorrhage-related fatalities.
The current population-based investigation documented brain injury as the predominant cause of death followed by cardiac and aortic injuries. High incidence of positive BAL among injury fatalities requires national initiatives for alcohol harm reduction and law enforcement efforts.
KeywordsBlunt Trauma Pelvic Fracture Aortic Injury Fatal Injury Blood Alcohol Level
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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