Hypothermia provokes hemorrhaging in various core muscle groups: how many of them could we have missed?
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The postmortem diagnosis of hypothermia remains problematic even in the era of molecular and digital diagnostic advances. Gross hemorrhages in iliopsoas muscles have been regarded as a helpful diagnostic sign in hypothermia fatalities; nevertheless, they have received marginal attention since their original description. The present study attempts to fill that void by examining occurrence, localization, and diagnostic significance of the bleeding into the core muscles as evidence of death due to hypothermia in a series comprising 51 consecutive hypothermia autopsy cases. Hemorrhages into the core muscles were identified in 33 cases of fatal hypothermia (65%). Hemorrhages were present in iliopsoas muscles (19 cases; 37%), deep back muscles (18 cases; 35%), and in other core muscular groups such as the diaphragm, cervical, pectoral, and intercostal muscles (11 cases; 22%). The results of the study offer an attractive diagnostic opportunity and reaffirm the potential of the careful core muscle dissection for the clarification of hypothermic deaths. Centers lacking high-end imaging technologies and molecular postmortem programs may especially benefit, which may have implications in broader autopsy practice.
KeywordsFatal hypothermia Core muscle Hemorrhage Autopsy Postmortem diagnosis Forensic pathology
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