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Fatal Bronchial Asthma With Bilateral Lung Collapse

Young, Thomas W. MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p 373-375
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181c15948
Case Reports

Fatal bronchial asthma is classically characterized in pathology textbooks and journal articles as associated with lung hyperinflation at autopsy. The following is a report of a case of fatal bronchial asthma associated instead with bilateral lung collapse. This manifestation of asthma at autopsy has not been previously reported, to my knowledge.

A 31-year-old man with a history of recurrent asthma was found in an unresponsive state in his automobile after a low-speed collision. Medical personnel during the resuscitation noted a decrease in breath sounds bilaterally and some wheezing. There was no escaping air with needle thoracostomies at the outset. Cardiac monitoring demonstrated pulseless electrical activity during most of the 30-minute resuscitation attempt. An autopsy disclosed collapsed lungs bilaterally. Microscopic examination of the lungs disclosed the characteristic histopathologic features of bronchial asthma.

From the Heartland Forensic Pathology, LLC, Kansas City, MO.

Manuscript received November 30, 2006; accepted February 14, 2007.

Reprints: Thomas W. Young, MD, Heartland Forensic Pathology, LLC, 12717 Oakmont Drive, Kansas City, MO 64145. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.