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J Forensic Leg Med. 2008 Jul;15(5):298-305. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2007.12.002. Epub 2008 Mar 14.

Injuries to neck structures in deaths due to constriction of neck, with a special reference to hanging.

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Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Government Medical College and Hospital, # 1156-B, Sector 32-B, Chandigarh 160 030, India.


This prospective study aimed at examining various injuries to the neck structures in deaths due to constriction of neck. Neck dissection technique, as advocated by Prinsloo and Gordon was undertaken to study the injuries to the thyro-hyoid complex, strap muscles, carotid vessels, etc. Of the 1746 medico-legal autopsies, conducted during the study period, 5% were deaths due asphyxia of which 82% were those of constriction of neck. The 21-30 years age group accounted for the maximum number of cases (57%). Male:female ratio was 2:1. Hanging (69%) outnumbered other asphyxial deaths--ligature and/or manual strangulation, smothering, etc. Injury to the sternocleido-mastoid muscle (54%) was the commonest injury to the neck structures. The hyoid bone was fractured in 21% cases, while the thyroid cartilage was fractured in 17% cases. Complete hanging was noted in 68% of cases while the hanging was atypical in 88%. Fixed knot was found to have been used in 71%. A single loop round the neck was observed in 80% of the cases and it was above the level of thyroid in 58% cases. Most cases of the fracture of the laryngo-hyoid complex were in the 41-60 year age group, 72% and the fracture was on the same side as the knot in 52% cases. Majority used soft daily wear articles of clothing like a sari (32%) or chunni (24%). Asphyxial deaths due to constriction of neck being common in all parts of the world, prospective studies in different setups to examine the profile of neck structure injuries are needed so as to differentiate the suicidal or homicidal nature of such deaths with a greater certainty.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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