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Forensic Sci Int. 1994 Jun 3;66(2):95-104.

Spleen findings in drowning.

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Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Tübingen, Germany.


A retrospective study of spleen findings in 42 victims of drowning and a comparison group of 42 cases of asphyxiation due to other causes (hanging, ligature strangulation and manual strangulation), that were matched for sex, age, body weight and build, was performed. Significantly smaller spleen weights (P < 0.05), spleen weight:body weight ratios (P < 0.01) and spleen weight:liver weight ratios (P < 0.01) were found in the victims of drowning. The difference in weight was approximately 18%. A significant negative correlation between spleen weight and blood alcohol concentration was found in the study group (r = -0.44; P < 0.01), but not in the control group. The possibility that the findings are due to a stress reaction caused by hypoxia in the presence of cooling and an influence of alcohol on reflex mechanisms is discussed.

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