Internal Current Mark in a Case of Suicide by Electrocution

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Fatalities caused by electrocution often lack specific morphologic evidence. Investigation of the death scene along with technical inspection of the electrical apparatus may help in clarifying the cause and manner of death. Cutaneous current marks may be the only sign of low voltage associated fatalities. The authors report a case of an electrician who committed suicide by electrocution using a time switch after oral ingestion of diazepam. Electrodes (coins) were fixed with adhesive tape at the height of the heart to the front and back of the left side of the chest. Autopsy revealed a blackish linear mark on the pleura parietalis of the inner side of the thoracic cavity, connecting the cutaneous current marks. Current-related and heat-related changes, such as hypercontraction bands of the intercostal muscles and coagulative changes of the perineurium of peripheral nerves, were found at histologic examination. Taking into consideration that the body had been under the influence of low-voltage current for 7 days, the morphologic alteration on the pleura parietalis was in accordance with an internal current mark, indicating the main route of current flow through the body. To the authors’ knowledge, such a current-related phenomenon has not been reported to occur on an inner body surface before.

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