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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1994 Dec;15(4):335-9.

An unusual case of maternal-fetal death due to vaginal insufflation of cocaine.

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Department of Pathology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winstom-Salem, North Carolina 27157-1072.


Air embolism secondary to vaginal insufflation has been documented as a cause of death in pregnant women. Under pressure, the air enters the uterus, causing air emboli within the uterine venous drainage and subsequently the systemic circulation. Death is usually sudden as the air obstructs the normal flow of circulation. Acute cocaine toxicity is also a well-known cause of sudden death. Cocaine use is prevalent in our society, even among pregnant women. We report the sudden death of a 31-year-old gravid female and 39-week gestational age male fetus. The cause of death was air embolism secondary to oral-vaginal insufflation of cocaine smoke.

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