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Arch Med Sadowej Kryminol. 2012 Jan-Mar;62(1):30-6, 21-9.

Presence of soot in the respiratory tract and esophagus as an element of consultative process addressing intravital staying in fire atmosphere.

[Article in English, Polish]

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  • 1Katedry i Zakładu Medycyny Sadowej Warszawskiego Uniwersytetu Medycznego.


This paper was prepared in view of consultative difficulties which occur during autopsies of bodies found at the seat of fire. The most difficult problem in such cases is establishing--in absence of typical signs of intravitality--whether the deceased was alive during the fire and inhaling the fire atmosphere; especially when the concentration of carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) in blood is higher than 10% and soot is found in the respiratory tract. The authors analyzed 241 reports of autopsies which had been performed at Institute of Forensic Medicine, Warsaw Medical University, between 2006 and 2011. The following data were analyzed: age, gender, the place where the body was found, blood concentration of COHb and alcohol and the presence of soot in the upper and lower respiratory tract, as well as in the esophagus. It was noted that if the concentration of COHb was higher, soot was more frequently present in the respiratory tract and esophagus. At the same time, the presence, as well as absence of soot was noted regardless of COHb concentration in blood, including 0% concentration. In cases of performing autopsies on bodies found at the seat of fire, examining the upper and down respiratory tract seems to be irrelevant in terms of its consultative usefulness; however, the presence of soot in the esophagus concomitant with low COHb concentration in blood is important in this context.

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