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Disseminated Fungal Infection With Renal Infarction Simulating Homicide

Ingham, Annabel; Gilbert, John D. FRACP; Byard, Roger W. MBBS, MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p 390-392
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181f69cb6
Case Reports

Renal infarction is an uncommon finding at autopsy most often related to occlusive thromboembolism or to trauma. A 42-year-old woman is reported who presented with persistent right flank pain after an alleged assault with injury to the area 3 weeks previously. Renal infarction necessitated a right nephrectomy that was followed by multiorgan failure and death. Given the possible link between the assault and the renal pathology, a homicide investigation was initiated. Although renal infarction had been confirmed by hospital pathologists, microscopy with special staining of both kidneys and the heart after autopsy revealed multifocal areas of angioinvasion by fungi having morphologic characteristics of mucormycosis. The only other finding of significance was alcohol-related micronodular cirrhosis of the liver. Renal infarction had therefore been caused by an angioinvasive fungal infection predisposed to by immunocompromise associated with alcoholism and not by trauma-induced arterial dissection. This case demonstrates that careful histological assessment of tissues from medicolegal autopsies may occasionally identify unexpected and rare disorders that have been confused with the sequelae of inflicted injury.

From the Discipline of Pathology, The University of Adelaide & Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Manuscript received January 4, 2009; accepted March 18, 2009.

Reprints: Roger W. Byard, MBBS, MD, Discipline of Pathology, The University of Adelaide, Level 3 Medical School North Building, Frome Rd, Adelaide 5005, South Australia, Australia. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.