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J Forensic Sci. 2010 Sep;55(5):1272-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01436.x. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Respiratory, circulatory, and neurological responses to hanging: a review of animal models.

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  • 1Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale, Montreal, Canada.


The pathophysiology of hanging is still poorly understood. This article presents a review of eight animal models: four models of isolated occlusion of the vessels of the neck (group 1), one model of combined tracheal and vessel occlusion (group 2), and three models of true animal hanging (group 3). Occlusion of the airway passages in group 2 did not accelerate respiratory arrest compared to group 1. Cessation of cerebral blood flow, rather than airway obstruction, seems to be the main cause of respiratory decline. In general, muscular movements ceased after 1-3.5 min and early generalized tonic-clonic convulsions were described. Complete circulatory collapse seems to occur between 4 and 8.5 min. These observations from animal models of hanging are compared with the data collected from filmed human hangings. Avenues to improve animal models are discussed.

© 2010 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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