International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 447–451 | Cite as

Is the lung floating test a valuable tool or obsolete? A prospective autopsy study

  • Anna-Lena Große Ostendorf
  • Markus A. Rothschild
  • Annette M. Müller
  • Sibylle BanaschakEmail author
Original Article


The lung floating test is still an obligatory measure to distinguish whether a newborn was born dead or alive. In order to verify the reliability of the floating test, a new clinical trial should examine the results of current cases and thus expose, if the test is still contemporary. Following the question, if the test is appropriate for the nowadays birth collective, 208 lungs of newborns were tested with the floating test. The test showed the expected correct result in 204 cases. However, it indicated a false negative result in four cases, in which the lungs sank, although prior life had been reported by medical staff. Overall, the study was able to prove that the results of the floating test are reliable in 98 %. Further, there was not a single false-positive result (lungs of a stillborn swim). Nevertheless, the test demonstrates that a negative test result cannot be taken as proof for a newborn never to have breathed at all.


Lung floating test Neonates Stillborn Newborn 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna-Lena Große Ostendorf
    • 1
  • Markus A. Rothschild
    • 1
  • Annette M. Müller
    • 2
  • Sibylle Banaschak
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity Hospital CologneKölnGermany
  2. 2.Department of Paediatric PathologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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