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American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181879ceb
Case Report

The Discrepant Severity of External and Internal Injuries in a Traffic Accident: The Cushioning Effect via a Human Body Against Direct Impact: Autopsy Cases

Nishitani, Yoko MD, PhD; Okazaki, Shunichiro MD, PhD; Suzuki, Kengo MD; Imabayashi, Kiyomi DDS, PhD; Katada, Ryuichi MD; Matsumoto, Hiroshi MD, PhD

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Abstract

Traffic accidents cause unexpectedly severe injuries of internal organs despite tiny injuries observed on the external body. A 51-year-old woman (subject 1) and a 54-year-old man (subject 2) were found dead on a road. Subject 1 had subcutaneous and intramuscular bleeding with décollement on the posterior aspect of her body, including upper cervical spine dislocation. Subject 2 did not exhibit any apparent findings on autopsy that were indicative of a direct injury by a motor vehicle, but had severe internal organ injuries, including the transection at the pontomedullary junction. We surmise that subjects 1 and 2 were walking in line with the vehicle which collided with them from behind, and then the body of subject 1 cushioned the direct impact of the vehicle against subject 2. This report illustrates the need of forensic autopsy for victims with no severe external injuries.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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