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Vitreous Fluid and/or Urine Glucose Concentrations in 1335 Civil Aviation Accident Pilot Fatalities

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During aviation accident investigations, vitreous fluid and urine samples from pilot fatalities are analyzed for glucose and blood for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) to monitor diabetic pilots and to discover other pilots with undiagnosed/unreported diabetes. The prevalence of elevated glucose concentrations in fatally injured pilots was evaluated by searching the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute’s Toxicology Database for the period 1998–2005. Out of 1335 pilots involving 363 vitreous fluid, 365 urine, and 607 vitreous fluid and urine analyses, 43 pilots had elevated glucose in vitreous fluid (>125 mg/dL) and/or in urine (>100 mg/dL). Of the 20 pilots whose blood samples were analyzed, nine had >6% HbA1c—four were known diabetics, and five were unknown diabetics. Urinary glucose levels were elevated in all 13 known hyperglycemic pilots. A considerable number of pilots (30 of 43) had elevated glucose and HbA1c (5 of 20), suggesting undiagnosed/unreported diabetic conditions.

Keywords: Federal Aviation Administration; aircraft accident investigation; diabetes; forensic science; forensic toxicology; hemoglobin A1c; hyperglycemia; urine; vitreous fluid

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Aerospace Medical Research Division, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Oklahoma City, OK.

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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