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Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Jan 10;214(1-3):e43-6. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.08.004. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Unexpected natural death secondary to intra-abdominal bleeding: report of one idiopathic spontaneous intraperitoneal hemorrhage case.

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Service de Médecine Légale, CHU Toulouse-Rangueil, Toulouse, France.


A 39-year-old woman was found dead at home. She was single, foreign national, chronic alcoholic, and had given shelter to a compatriot for three days. This man found the deceased in her bed, after a night of heavy drinking. The emergency medical team observed numerous recent blue ecchymoses of the upper limbs. Because of the unclear circumstances, a medicolegal autopsy was ordered by the public prosecutor. Massive hemoperitoneum was diagnosed with no visible internal traumatic injury. Autopsy revealed hepatic and pancreatic abnormalities secondary to chronic alcoholism, which were confirmed by pathological study. The source of the hemoperitoneum was not identified despite careful visceral and vascular examination. The authors concluded that death was secondary to idiopathic spontaneous hemoperitoneum or abdominal apoplexy. The forensic literature on unexpected death due to massive nontraumatic intra-abdominal hemorrhage in association with liver cirrhosis is sparse, with only five cases reported, including the present case.

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