Forensic Histopathology

pp 149-164


Heat, Fire, Electricity, Lightning, Radiation, and Gases

  • Reinhard B. DettmeyerAffiliated withInstitute of Forensic Medicine, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen Email author 

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The effects of heat, electricity, radiation, and burn injuries from open fire, inhalation of hot air or gases, as well as whole-body hyperthermia can have a lethal course and partly be detected microscopically (Fineschi et al. 2005; Bohnert 2004; Karger and Teige 2002; Myers et al. 1999; Pioch 1966a, b). Thus, pulmonary changes following heat or fire have long been the subject of histological investigations (Zinck 1940; Foerster 1934, 1932; Olbrycht 1927). Electricity can leave current marks on the skin and can even directly damage the myocardium. Initially, the impact of heat leads to injury of the locally affected tissue. In the case of higher-degree burns, the entire body is affected (burn disease). Special forms, such as heat inhalation trauma, may lead to specific injury to the respiratory tract. In the case of lightning, injuries include striated skin and organ damage between the site of entry and the site of exit of the lightning; thus, organ damage can be detected histologically and immunohistochemically.