Aspiration and Inhalation

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer


The aspiration and inhalation of materials and gases can sometimes cause characteristic and sometimes nonspecific histopathological findings. Water aspiration is relatively common, leading to histopathological findings in lung tissue (emphysema aquosum; hemorrhagic emphysema). Blood aspiration also occurs following medical interventions. The aspiration of fine soot dust or undigested food can sometimes only be detected histologically. Acute aspiration or inhalation can only be differentiated from chronic tissue damage due to aspiration or inhalation further in the past using histopathology techniques: the detection of pulmonary intra-alveolar siderophages or the demonstration of inflammatory fibrosis with foreign-body-type giant cells. This can be important in the detection of aspiration pneumonia, for instance. On the other hand, the importance of amniotic fluid aspiration of varying degrees of severity should be considered with caution in terms of cause of death. Cases of aspiration of, e.g., barium sulfate are rare. If there is a possibility that textile fiber inhalation has occurred, e.g., in the case of suffocation with a soft cover, the microscopic examination of bronchial lavage fluid is recommended. Histopathological findings following gas inhalation, which can cause severe inflammation in lung tissue and occasionally liver damage, tend to be nonspecific. Allergen inhalation can cause fatal allergic asthma attacks. The detection of findings in lung tissue following hair spray inhalation is extremely rare.


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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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