Endocrine Organs

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer


Endocrine organ dysfunction also represents a possible cause of death. This applies to decompensated diabetes, which can be evidenced by histopathological findings such as diabetic glomerulosclerosis, glycogen-positive deposits (Armanni–Ebstein cells) in vacuolated renal tubular epithelial cells, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Insulitis can be detected microscopically only in extremely rare cases. Histological findings in the adrenal glands can be correlated with clinical findings in order to identify acute primary adrenocortical insufficiency (Addison’s disease). In extremely rare cases, it has been possible to identify a hitherto undiagnosed pheochromocytoma as the cause of death. Thyroid tissue can show evidence of increased functional activity in the form of intracolloidal resorption vacuoles or the full picture of Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis or Graves’ disease. The phenomenon referred to as “black thyroid,” on the other hand, is seen extremely rarely as an adverse drug reaction or in the context of ochronosis. Calcium metabolism disorders are seen in diseases of the parathyroid glands with hyperparathyroidism and the associated calcium salt deposits in various internal organs. It is extremely rare for diseases of the pituitary gland to be relevant to the cause of death, e.g., Sheehan’s syndrome.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.University Hospital Giessen Institute of Forensic MedicineGiessenGermany

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