Histopathology of Selected Trauma

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer


The wide variety of trauma and types of violence toward humans result in widely varying histopathological findings. Of particular importance here is the age determination of skin wounds, as well as stab and incision wounds to internal organs. Injuries to soft tissue, e.g., the neck muscles due to trauma to the neck, can also be of particular interest. In the case of exposure to effects such as heat or cold, injuries from blows, and bodies found in water or at the site of a fire, it is always essential to establish whether injuries were inflicted ante- or postmortem. Here again, forensic histopathology can make an important contribution. However, the particular circumstances of death always need to be taken into account. A distinction needs to be made between specific microscopic findings, which are hence also reliable in an expert appraisal, and nonspecific findings that can have very different causes, e.g., death due to asphyxiation. The detection of diatoms in the case of death by drowning may also be helpful, assuming that diatom quantification is also performed. In other cases, histopathology allows the detection of cellular reactions in tissue, thereby enabling conclusions to be drawn on whether an injury was survived for a roughly determinable time, which, together with other findings and information, can be narrowed down more closely, e.g., by means of histopathological age determination of subdural hematomas and injury to the brain. The age of trauma-related hemorrhage and inflammation can also be established by means of histopathological investigations. In individual cases, the selected histopathologically demonstrable trauma may also include iatrogenic injuries, e.g., rib fractures as a result of resuscitation that has been survived for a brief period.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

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