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An Unusual Accidental Death From Positional Asphyxia

Benomran, Fawzi Abdussalam MBChB, MSc, DCH, MD; Hassan, A.I. MBChB, MSc, MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 1 - p 31-34
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181f70d41
Case Reports

Death from postural or positional asphyxia takes place in circumstances when the victim's body assumes an abnormal position compromising the process of respiration. The diagnosis is usually based on circumstantial evidence in conjunction with excluding other significant underlying causes of death. This case report is about a 37-year-old man who had been drinking the previous night and was found dead in the morning in a knee-chest position. The forensic medical examiner had the opportunity to examine and photograph the scene of death while the body was still in its original position. Apart from a blood alcohol level of 290 mg/100 mL, marked congestion of the face, and petechial hemorrhages on the conjunctivae, autopsy findings were unremarkable. There were no injuries or pathological findings to account for his death. Death was certified as due to postural asphyxia secondary to intoxication by alcohol.

From the Forensic Medicine Department, General Department of Forensic Science, Dubai Police General Headquarters, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Manuscript received March 30, 2008; accepted July 19, 2008.

Reprints: Fawzi Abdussalam Benomran, MBChB, MSc, DCH, MD, Dubai Medical College, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Forensic Medicine Department, General Department of Forensic Science, Dubai Police General Headquarters, PO Box 39844, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. E-mail: Benemran@hotmail.com.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.