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Postmortem Computed Tomography Findings of Upper Airway Obstruction by Food

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This study is a retrospective analysis of 14 cases with food bolus upper airway obstruction as the defined cause of death where both postmortem computed tomography and autopsy were performed. Three groups were defined by the images i.e., Type 1: foreign body situated between the oral cavity and oropharynx, while the epiglottis sits in normal position, Type 2: foreign body situated in the oropharynx just above the epiglottis pushing it posteriorly and obstructing the airway, and Type 3: foreign body obstructing the laryngeal inlet while pushing the epiglottis anteriorly. At the time of autopsy, foreign bodies were detected by pathologists, occasionally in a different position, presumably being dislodged in the act of organ removal especially for the “Type 1” pattern. CT imaging provides accurate interrogation of upper airway bolus obstruction prior to autopsy.
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Keywords: airway obstruction; asphyxia; choking; computed tomography; food; forensic radiology; forensic science; postmortem imaging

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Southbank, Vic. 3006, Australia.

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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