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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69746 Find in a Library
Title: Selected Procedures at Autopsy (From Medicolegal Investigation of Death, P 590-603, 1980, by Werner U Spitz and Russell S Fisher - See NCJ-69730)
Author(s): W U Spitz
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Charles C. Thomas
Springfield, IL 62704
Sale Source: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Procedures unique to the medicolegal autopsy, as presented is a forensic pathology text, are described; evaluation of air embolism, pneumothorax, and whiplash injury are included.
Abstract: A medicolegal autopsy differs from a hospital autopsy in both objective and significance. Consequently, certain procedures discussed herein are not used by hospitals but are routinely applied by forensic pathologists. Every autopsy in a case of suspected abortion or an open neck wound should begin with a check for air embolism. Similarly, although pure pneumothorax is rare, the pleural cavities should be checked for the presence of air in every case involving heart injury. Death due to pulmonary embolism should involve evaluation of the individual's calves, as they are likely to be the source of the fatal embolism if other thrombi are found in the calf area. Occasionally the skull of the deceased is fractured to the extent that facial features are not recognizable, and the type of violence responsible for the mutilation cannot be ascertained. Restoration of the contour of the skull frequently provides answers to these questions. Replacement and fixation of the bone fragments may be carried out using an electric drill and copper wire. In some cases, particularly when identification by means other than dental examination is impossible, disarticulation of the mandible and excision of the upper jaw may be required to enable adequate examination and possible preservation as evidence. Even in the presence of another well documented cause of death, the significance of whiplash injury as a component mechanism of injury should not be overlooked. Therefore, thorough examination of the cervical spine of all traffic accident and fall victims is mandatory. Photographs of victims taken by pathologists often fail to related desired information. Photographs should be taken from above, at right angles to the body. Photographs showing abundant blood on the body or in the background are often considered offensive and are not admitted in court, as they tend to prejudice the jury. Identification of the victim is often made possible by a photograph of the face, with facial injuries repaired when indicated. Two references, photographs, and sketches are included. For related documents, see NCJ 69731-45 and 69747.
Index Term(s): Autopsy; Criminal investigation; Fatalities; Forensic medicine; Medicolegal considerations
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