International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 122, Issue 4, pp 327–331

Postmortem “delivery” in a pregnant fire victim

  • Benedikt Vennemann
  • Michael Bohnert
  • Stefan Pollak
  • Markus Große Perdekamp
Case Report

Abstract

A 23-year-old woman traveling in the front passenger seat of a car was killed in a traffic accident involving two rear-end collisions. After the second rear-end collision, the car caught fire. While the driver could be rescued, the pregnant passenger remained inside the car. After the fire had been extinguished, a charred body was found in a pugilistic attitude with an exposed abdominal cavity and a ruptured anterior wall of the gravid uterus. Between the woman’s legs, an almost unburned fetus was found with body measurements corresponding to a gestational age of 28 weeks. The placenta had remained inside the uterine cavity and was still connected with the fetus via the umbilical cord. In conclusion, the rupture of the pregnant uterus with expulsion of the fetus had to be considered a secondary event due to the initial heating and subsequent shrinking of the uterine wall.

Keywords

Rear-end collision Car fire Charred body Uterus rupture Heat Postmortem “delivery” 

References

  1. 1.
    Behera C, Rantji R, Dogra TD (2007) Full term normal delivery following suicidal hanging. Forensic Sci Int 169:e1–e2PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bohnert M (2004) Morphological findings in burned bodies. In: Tsokos M (ed) Forensic pathology reviews. vol. 1. Humana, Totowa, NJ, pp 3–27Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bohnert M, Rost T, Faller-Marquardt M, Ropohl D, Pollak S (1997) Fractures of the base of the skull in charred bodies—post-mortem heat injuries or signs of mechanical traumatisation? Forensic Sci Int 87:55–62PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bohnert M, Rost T, Pollak S (1998) The degree of destruction of human bodies in relation to the duration of the fire. Forensic Sci Int 95:11–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bohnert M, Schmidt U, Große Perdekamp M, Pollak S (2001) Extent of burn lesions—an analysis of 68 burned cadavers. Arch Kriminol 207:104–113PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bohnert M, Werner CR, Pollak S (2003) Problems associated with the diagnosis of vitality in burned bodies. Forensic Sci Int 135:197–205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brinkmann B, Püschel K (1978) Heat injuries to the respiratory system. Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol 379:299–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jungmichel G, Musick N (1941) Über Sarggeburt. Dtsch Z Gesamte Gerichtl Med 34:236–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Madea B (1992) Duration of the fire and degree of charring of a burned cadaver. Arch Kriminol 189:39–47PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Madea B, Schmidt P (2000) Vital–supravital–postmortem findings after burning. In: Oehmichen M (ed) Research in legal medicine. vol. 21. Schmidt-Römhild, Lübeck, pp 305–340Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Maxeiner H (1988) Circumstances and findings in 202 burn deaths. Beitr Gerichtl Med 46:313–325PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nadjem H, Ropohl D, Pollak S (2002) Injury pattern in fatally wounded vehicle occupants after rear-end collisions. Arch Kriminol 209:138–146Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Panning G (1941) Sarggeburt. Dtsch Z Ges Gerichtl Med 34:257–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Prokop O, Göhler W (1976) Forensische Medizin, 3rd edn. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, p 14Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Puglisi F, Strimpakos N, Papathanasiou M, Kapreli E, Bonelli A, Sgambetterra S, Ferrari R (2007) Cervical spine segmental vertebral motion in healthy volunteers feigning restriction of neck flexion and extension. Int J Legal Med 121:337–340PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Saukko PJ, Knight B (2004) Knight’s forensic pathology, 3rd edn. Arnold, London, p 65Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schneider V, Pietrzak T, Klöppel I (1986) Postmortem gastrointestinal ruptures in burn cadavers. Arch Kriminol 177:29–33PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schulz F, Püschel K, Tsokos M (2005) Postmortem fetal extrusion in a case of maternal heroin intoxication. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 1:273–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Stacey S, Kent R (2006) Investigation of an alleged mechanism of finger injury in an automobile crash. Int J Legal Med 120:246–251PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wirthwein DP, Pless JE (1996) Carboxyhemoglobin levels in a series of automobile fires. Death due to crash or fire? Am J Forensic Med Pathol 17:117–123PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benedikt Vennemann
    • 1
  • Michael Bohnert
    • 1
  • Stefan Pollak
    • 1
  • Markus Große Perdekamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity Hospital FreiburgFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations