Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1990 Mar;11(1):50-5.

Anterior thoracic wall trauma in elderly homicide victims. The "CPR defense".

Author information

Department of Pathology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131.


During the course of medicolegal postmortem examinations, forensic pathologists often encounter the sequelae of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that was administered by medical and paramedical personnel. A wide variety of CPR-related injuries have been described since the institution nearly 30 years ago of this now common-place emergency technique. The forensic pathologist must be aware of both typical and unusual CPR-related trauma patterns in order to differentiate between injury produced during emergency therapy procedures and injury sustained through other mechanisms (for example, during an assault or an accident). This article describes two recent separate and unrelated incidents in which an elderly woman was murdered. In each instance, bony injuries of the anterior thoracic wall structures were identified during the autopsy. Defense attorneys in each case attempted to use these injuries as proof that their accused clients had performed external cardiac massage on their victims, thus indicating that the homicides had not been intentional, and that the perpetrators showed remorse. These cases are presented, with a discussion of the typical features of CPR-related thoracic wall trauma as compared with willfully inflicted injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center