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Bleedings into the Anterior Aspect of the Intervertebral Disks in the Lumbar Region of the Spine as a Diagnostic Sign of Hanging

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Simon’s hemorrhages are ventral intervertebral hemorrhages located beneath the anterior longitudinal ligament that have been described in cases of hanging and tend to appear in the lumbar region of the spine. There are also reports of Simon’s hemorrhages in cases of blunt trauma, asphyxia, drowning, and putrefaction. In a prospective analysis of 2226 autopsies, we found Simon’s hemorrhages in 65 out of 178 cases of hanging and also in 17 cases in a group of 350 controls with various causes of death. The relative frequency of occurrence of Simon’s bleedings in cases of hanging was 37%. Simon’s hemorrhages can be considered an objective vital finding, which is not absolutely specific for hanging. The absence of hemorrhages in intervertebral disks does not exclude death by hanging. This study suggests that Simon’s bleedings in cases of hanging are more frequent in rather young individuals, in cases with free body suspension, and in individuals with minimal degenerative changes in the lumbosacral part of the spinal column.
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Keywords: Simon’s bleedings; autopsy; forensic science; hanging; spine; vital sign

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Legal Medicine, Charles University, Czech Republic. 2: Institute of Anatomy, Charles University, Czech Republic.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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