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Journal: The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology


Comparison of DNA profiles is often used in verifying the identification of deceased human beings when other easier, quicker, and less expensive means to identification are not possible. Fifty-five adult subjects divided into 3 groups provided a used toothbrush along with a small bloodstain control for DNA analysis and comparison. Results indicate that there is no significant difference in the quantity and quality of DNA recovered from a toothbrush that has been used for 1 month versus 3 months versus random periods. The results of this study confirm earlier conclusions that a used toothbrush is a reliable source of antemortem DNA from a putative decedent. The use of aviation snips to remove a small portion of the toothbrush head provides an easy, inexpensive method of obtaining a sample for DNA extraction. The authors recommend this method as a standardized technique for use in forensic DNA laboratories.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Full genome sequencing, Identification, DNA profiling, National DNA database, Combined DNA Index System, Thomas Jefferson


Massive enlargement of an ovarian cyst is an uncommon cause of morbidity and a rare cause of mortality due in large to part to noninvasive imaging techniques that usually permit early detection. When an ovarian cyst reaches giant proportions, it produces abdominal enlargement often with a fluid wave resulting in a condition that mimics ascites, called pseudoascites. Despite their impressive appearances, such cysts often are operable for cure. We describe a case of a middle-aged woman who presented 3 years before her death with symptoms from an undiagnosed giant cyst and given a diagnosis of ascites of undetermined etiology. She subsequently died at home unexpectedly, and at autopsy, she was found to have a massively enlarged but otherwise benign mucinous cystadenoma.

Concepts: Disease, Causality, Death, Pathology, Ovarian cyst, Pelvis, Cyst, Autopsy


Despite great advances in forensic sciences in the last decades, our knowledge of the pathophysiology of ligature strangulation is still largely based on old writings from the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The study of filmed hangings by the Working Group on Human Asphyxia has contributed to a better understanding of the agonal responses to strangulation by hanging, and judo-related studies have given some insight into the pathophysiology of manual strangulation, but the pathophysiology of ligature strangulation has remained largely unexplored so far. Three nonlethal strangulations filmed by an autoerotic practitioner are here presented. In these 3 ligature strangulations, the 35-year-old man is sitting on a chair. A pair of pajama pants is rolled once around his neck, with the extremities of the pants falling down on each side of his chest. The man is pulling the extremities of the pants with both hands to apply compression on his neck. After losing consciousness, he ceases to pull on the ligature, and the pants slowly loosen around the neck. A few seconds later, he regains consciousness and gets up from the chair. In the 3 nonlethal ligature strangulations presented in this study, the loss of consciousness occurred in 11 seconds. The loss of consciousness was closely followed by the onset of convulsions (7-11 seconds). These results are compared with the early agonal responses documented in filmed hangings and judo studies.

Concepts: 20th century, The Loss, Hanging, The Onset, Suicide methods, Strangling, Execution methods, 20th Century Fox


The rise in popularity of “bath salts” as safe alternatives to MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), methamphetamine, and other illicit substances has resulted in increased scrutiny of the contents and toxicology associated with these products. We report a case of sudden death related to the synthetic cathinone methylone (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinonmethylone) in a previously healthy 19-year-old man. Although several fatal case reports have been published involving methylone and other synthetic cathinones, this is the first reported case of sudden cardiac death associated with methylone use. Although lack of published data prevented a comparison of blood methylone concentrations between our case and existing reports, the amount of methylone we detected postmortem (0.07 mg/dL) is below those reported in MDMA-related fatalities. Our report suggests that methylone toxicity has been greatly underestimated by users of this synthetic cathinone.

Concepts: Cardiac arrest, Report, Sudden cardiac death, MDMA, Cathinones, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, Euphoriants, Cathine


Existing organ weight charts used by pathologists for patients undergoing medical autopsy do not illustrate the effect of obesity and age on organ weights among a general population of older individuals with multiple comorbidities.

Concepts: Death, Biology, Obesity, Mass, Body mass index, Body shape, Autopsy, Weight


Child sexual abuse has gained public attention and has become 1 of the most high-profile crimes. This study aimed to determine the demographic and medicolegal aspects of child sexual abuse in greater Cairo, Egypt. This is a retrospective study from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2011. Data were collected from a Cairo medicolegal department and were statistically analyzed. The total number of cases was 1832 victims; 57.9% were males and 42.1% were females. Most assaults occurred in 2010 (16.2%) and 2011 (17.5%). The age group 6 to 12 years accounted for higher rate (49%), mostly in males (71.8%). A total of 83.3% of the victims belonged to low social class, and 72.3% of the victims were out of school. Only 1.9% of the victims had a mental disability. The crime scene was an unknown place in 78.1%. All offenders were males; most cases had 1 offender (82.5 %); and most offenders were extrafamilial (94.2%), of low social level, illiterate, unemployed, and between 18 and 30 years old. The unmarried offenders assaulted the females more than the males, whereas the married assaulted the males more than the females. A total of 5.8% were intrafamilial offenders; 62.7% of these cases were incest against girls and 37.3% were sodomy against boys. Clothes were normal in 48.8%. Anal assault (52.3%) and incomplete vaginal penetration (32%) were the commonest types. There was no significant relation between findings, investigations, and time. In conclusion, child sexual abuse in greater Cairo represents a problem. Therefore,forensic medicine should be a part of a multidisciplinary approach to prevent, investigate, and treat the problem.

Concepts: Sociology, Crime, Child sexual abuse, Child abuse, Rape, Boy, Crimes, Assault


Asphyxia by suffocating gases, that is, methane or carbon dioxide, is characterized by the displacement of oxygen from inspired air. Thus, the cells are unable to receive oxygen and, as a consequence, are affected by acute hypoxemic hypoxia. The brain suffers because of the hypoxemic state, the subject become unconscious, and then, respiration arrest occurs, followed by cardiac arrest. This is the physiopathologic mechanism leading to death.We report a case of a 35-year-old man found dead at home with his mouth containing a tube linked to the domestic methane gas system originating from the wall, sealed with packing tape.

Concepts: Hemoglobin, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Carbon, Carbon monoxide, Hypoxia, Natural gas, Asphyxiant gas


Cerebral tissue pulmonary embolism (CTPE) is a very rare complication of severe head trauma. Nearly 20 cases of CTPE have been reported in neonates after birth trauma and even fewer cases in children and adults. We report a 4-month-old infant boy who sustained severe head trauma when he was accidentally dropped by his stepfather. Autopsy revealed multiple skull fractures, dural venous sinus laceration, subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages, and brain maceration and extrusion. Microscopically, there was widespread embolism of brain tissue in medium- to small-sized pulmonary arteries.

Concepts: Blood, Heart, Pulmonary artery, Cerebrospinal fluid, Dural venous sinuses


Death due to lightning strikes is infrequent, above all indoors. Some cases may take on a medical legal interest due to the unusual and uncommon circumstances in which they occur. The authors report an extremely rare case of electrocution occurred inside a house in a rural area. A 53-year-old man was reached by an electrical discharge originating from lightning while he was doing renovation work on a cottage. In this case, the correct interpretation of the autopsy and histological aspects and the attentive analysis of the circumstantial and environmental data led to the correct diagnosis of death and to the reconstruction of the dynamics with which it occurred. It was in fact possible to reconstruct that during a violent thunderstorm, lightning, discharging from the bottom upward formed an electric arc. The victim, who was close to metal objects (sawhorses), was struck on the left foot and the current exited from the right hand passing through the heart causing immediate death.

Concepts: Electricity, Lightning, Left-wing politics, Reconstruction era of the United States, Reconstruction, Political spectrum, House, Electrical breakdown


Subarachnoid hemorrhages from ruptured cerebral aneurysms have a high clinical relevance and often lead to death. Approximately 2% to 5% of the people worldwide, even of younger age, are said to have aneurysms at cerebral arteries. In many cases, they remain clinically unapparent for decades. However, there are numerous risk factors for the rupture of an aneurysm, including temporary raises of the blood pressure. Such changes of the blood pressure can be induced even by several everyday behaviors. For example, any sort of sexual activities may cause extensive raises of the blood pressure because of several physical and psychological factors. The term “sexual activity” covers sexual intercourse as well as masturbation. In this article, the remarkable case of a 24-year-old woman with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm in the context of masturbation is presented. It is discussed with respect to the possible pathophysiological effects of sexual activity on cerebral aneurysms.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Blood, Atherosclerosis, Aneurysm, Cerebral aneurysm, Human sexual behavior, Human sexuality, Human behavior