Histopathology and Drug Abuse

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer


One-off or regular use of drugs in the narrower sense, i.e., heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, or the inhalation of hairspray, can lead to numerous histopathological findings: pulmonary granulomatosis known as “junkie pneumopathy” or the detection of pulmonary microhemorrhages following i.v. drug use. Less pronounced heroin-related kidney diseases are seen following mostly long-term drug use, whereas chronic hepatitis is a frequent side effect of i.v. drug use. In the case of a particular genetic disposition, malignant hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis may prove fatal following ecstasy use; again, in such cases, histopathological and immunohistochemical investigations are able to determine the cause of death, ideally in combination with the results of chemical-toxicological analysis. “Cocaine cardiomyopathy” is also known, but with regular drug use, morphological abnormalities of the myocardium or endocarditis in the form of heart valve inflammation may be observed. Less attention is paid to acute, allergic-immunological reactions to drugs that have been consumed or more discrete changes to liver tissue, such as drug-induced hepatic peliosis.


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© 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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