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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2006 Dec;27(4):287-91.

Postmortem ophthalmologic examination by endoscopy.

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  • 1Department of Legal Medicine, Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, Yanagido, Gifu, Japan.


Abnormal intraocular findings detected during forensic autopsies have generally been ignored. In this study, we assessed the usefulness of postmortem ophthalmologic examination in 46 cases using an endoscope system with a tip diameter of 0.9 mm. This procedure was performed using a portable system, and only 1 assistant was needed. Furthermore, the procedure required only about 5 minutes for both eyes. Abnormal intraocular findings were seen in 22 (47.8%) of 46 cases. Fundus hemorrhages were observed in 4, and papilledema was observed in 3 of 5 cases of death due to head trauma; besides, it was possible to estimate the interval between head trauma and death based on intraocular findings. Seven of 16 cases of death from asphyxia presented abnormal intraocular findings, including retinal splinter hemorrhages. Fundus hemorrhages were observed in 2 of 3 cases of death by drowning, which, to our knowledge, had never been reported to date.Thus, this procedure proved easy to perform, and it may be useful to detect significant abnormal intraocular findings related to the presumed cause of death during autopsies.

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