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J Forensic Sci. 2016 Jan;61(1):234-7. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12885. Epub 2015 Aug 7.

Determination of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in Postmortem Samples in Ectopic Pregnancies.

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CURML, Chemin de la Vulliette 4, 1000, Lausanne 25, Switzerland.
Institut de Médecine Légale, avenue Rockfeller 12, 69008, Lyon, France.
DISSAL, via de Toni 12, 16132, Genova, Italy.
Policlinico di Modena, via del Pozzo 71, 41124, Modena, Italy.


Increased human chorionic gonadotropin levels (HCG) can be detected in femoral blood, bile, and vitreous humor collected during autopsy of pregnant women using a standard kit designed for living patients. In the study herein, the concentrations of HCG were measured in postmortem serum, vitreous, bile, cerebrospinal, and pericardial fluids in 4 cases of fatal ectopic pregnancy and 40 controls using a quantitative electrochemiluminescence immunoassay designed for living patients. No false-negative cases were identified in any of the analyzed samples in any of the ectopic pregnancy cases. No correlations were found between total HCG levels in postmortem serum and the other tested specimens. The results of this study would suggest that higher HCG in bile, vitreous, pericardial, and cerebrospinal fluids may confirm the existence of ectopic pregnancy and therefore identify other situations in which this hormone is increased, although gestational age cannot be reliably estimated using these values.


autopsy; cerebrospinal fluid; ectopic pregnancy; forensic science; human chorionic gonadotropin; pericardial fluid; postmortem biochemistry

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