Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 304–306 | Cite as

Erosive gastritis, Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon and diabetic ketoacidosis

  • Roger W. ByardEmail author
  • Chong Zhou
Case Report


The Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon, which is found in the kidneys in diabetic ketoacidosis, has also been proposed as an independent diagnostic postmortem marker for hypothermia. A case is reported to demonstrate the possibility of a more complex inter-related etiology in certain instances. A 44-year-old man with a past history of hospital admission for hypothermia, alcoholism and insulin dependent diabetes mellitus was found dead at his home address. At autopsy there were prominent superficial erosive gastritis (Wischnewsky spots) in keeping with terminal hypothermia. In addition there was also marked cortical pallor of the kidneys due to subnuclear renal tubular epithelial vacuolization (Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon). Thus there was evidence for both hypothermia and Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon, suggesting a relationship. Subsequent biochemical testing of vitreous humor, however, demonstrated markedly elevated levels of glucose (36.5 mmol/l; N = 3.6–6.0 mmol/l), β-hydroxybutyrate (23.2 mmol/l; N < 0.3 mmol/l), and lactate (29.4 mmol/l; N = 0.2–2.0 mmol/l). Death was, therefore, due to diabetic ketoacidosis complicated by hypothermia. Diabetes mellitus has a known association with both hypothermia and Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon, thus, before renal tubular vacuolization can be taken as a marker of hypothermia in isolation, it is important to consider the possibility that in certain cases underlying diabetic ketoacidosis may be present.


Hypothermia Diabetes mellitus Hyperglycemia Ketoacidosis Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon Renal tubular vacuolization Wischnewsky spots 



We would like to thank the South Australian State Coroner, Mr M. Johns, for permission to publish selected details of this case.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, Level 3 Medical School North BuildingThe University of Adelaide & Forensic ScienceAdelaideAustralia

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