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Two Fatal Cases of Hidden Pneumonia in Young People

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Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe lung disease characterized by inflammation of the lung parenchyma leading to impaired gas exchange. This condition is often lethal, usually requiring mechanical ventilation and admission to an intensive care unit. We present two fatal cases of hidden pneumonia in young people and discuss the pathophysiological mechanism of ARDS with reference to the histological pattern. A complete forensic approach by means of autopsy and histological, immunohistochemical, and microbiological, examination was carried out. In both cases the cause of death was cardio-respiratory failure following an acute bilateral pneumonia with diffuse alveolar damage and ARDS associated with sepsis and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Our cases suggest on one side the importance of an early diagnosis to avoid unexpected death while on the other that the diagnosis of ARDS has to be confirmed on the basis of a careful postmortem examination and a complete microscopy and microbiological study.

Keywords: adult respiratory distress syndrome; diffuse alveolar damage; forensic pathology; forensic science; hidden pneumonia; sudden death; young people

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Legal and Forensic Medicine, University of Genova, Via de Toni 12, 16132 Genova, Italy. 2: Department of Clinical Pathology, San Martino Hospital, Piazza R. Benzi 10, 16132 Genova, Italy.

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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