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Death by suffocation

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Abstract

In the simplest case, anoxia results from interruption of circulation. Consciousness is lost within seconds of interruption of the brain’s blood supply and within one to two minutes irreversible damage to the brain due to anoxia develops. If the lack of oxygen lasts only a few seconds after loss of consciousness, the injured person or patient regains consciousness on his own. Hypoxia endured over an extended period may not result in damage and may only cause a loss of consciousness if the alveolar O2 tension falls below 33 Hgmm. The clinical symptoms of hypoxia (headache, dyspnoe, difficulty in concentration, occasionally euphoria) are manifestations of lack of oxygen and can be caused by an alveolar O2 tension below 50 Hgmm within hours. A hypoxic state accompanies not only some diseases such as severe anemia and processes causing airway obstruction, but poisoning (CO, CO2, CN) and some injuries can cause a hypoxic state as well. The distinction between acute and chronic hypoxic states is relatively simple. The acute oxygen deficient state, whether by poisoning or by airway obstruction, is easy to discover. Morphological changes which are the consequence of low oxygen content, such as a rise in the number of red blood cells, an increase in erythropoesis, and hypoxic fatty degeneration of the myocardium, make it easier to recognize the chronic hypoxic state. They are the possible consequences of a lower level of PO2 in the inspired air, insufficient pulmonary ventilation, a decreased diffusion capacity of the alveolar membrane, insufficient circulatory capacity or poisoning.

Keywords

  • Hypoxic State
  • Hyoid Bone
  • Thyroid Cartilage
  • External Examination
  • Injured Person

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 1993 László Buris

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Buris, L. (1993). Death by suffocation. In: Forensic Medicine. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-48884-9_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-48884-9_6

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