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Diagnostic Dilemma of Sudden Deaths Due to Acute Hemorrhagic Pancreatitis

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Sudden death due to acute pancreatitis has been rarely determined. A review of 3305 autopsies performed between 1991 and 2001 at the Council of Forensic Medicine found 12 cases (0.36%) with sudden death due to acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis without symptoms. A history of chronic alcohol ingestion was obtained from family in four cases (33%), and no stones were found in the bile ducts or in the gall bladders. During the autopsies, hemorrhage and edema were localized on the head of the pancreas in three cases and the whole pancreas in nine cases. The most common extrapancreatic pathology was found in the lung including pulmonary edema, alveolar hemorrhage, pleural effusion, and pulmonary congestion. There was no correlation between pulmonary and pancreatic damage. It is suggested that the forensic pathologists who are dealing with sudden unexpected death must not ignore the examination of pancreatic and extrapancreatic regions to avoid missing acute pancreatitis.
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Keywords: acute pancreatitis; forensic science; lung pathology; sudden death

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forensic Medicine, Hacettepe University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey. 2: Department of Surgery, Fatih University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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