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Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Mar 20;206(1-3):e82-4. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.08.018. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon and hypothermia.

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  • 1Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Adelaide & Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, Australia.


Retrospective review was undertaken of 46 cases of lethal hypothermia for the presence of subnuclear vacuolization of renal tubular epithelial cells. Fifteen of the 46 cases (33%) had renal tubular vacuolization typical of the Armanni-Ebstein phenomenon. The age range was 30-87 years (average 59 years) with a male to female ratio of 6:9. Nine of the 15 cases with Armanni-Ebstein changes (60%) had a history of diabetes mellitus, and in seven of these vitreous humour biochemical analyses were performed, all of which revealed diabetic ketoacidosis (vitreous glucose levels = 32.9-85.3 mmol/L; β-hydroxybutyrate = 7.4-20 mmol/L). This study has confirmed the association between hypothermia and renal tubular epithelial vacuolization, but in addition raises the prospect that this may be contributed to in some cases by underlying diabetic ketoacidosis. Hypothermic deaths should, therefore, raise the possibility of diabetes mellitus and initiate postmortem biochemical measurement of vitreous humor glucose and β-hydroxybutyrate levels.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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