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Fatal Splenic Rupture Following Heimlich Maneuver: Case Report and Literature Review

Cecchetto, Giovanni MD*; Viel, Guido MD*; Cecchetto, Attilio MD, PhD; Kusstatscher, Stefano MD; Montisci, Massimo MD, PhD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 169-171
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318219c878
Case Reports

The most effective resuscitative procedure in choking by foreign bodies is the Heimlich maneuver, described for the first time by Henry Heimlich (1974) and recognized by the US Surgeon General (1985) as the "only method that should be used for the treatment of choking from foreign body airway obstruction." If performed correctly, this lifesaving maneuver is associated with rare complications, of which the most frequent are rib fractures and gastric or esophagus perforations. Other rare traumatic injuries such as pneumomediastinum, aortic valve cusp rupture, diaphragmatic herniation, jejunum perforation, hepatic rupture, or mesenteric laceration have been described.

However, we are unaware of previous reports of splenic rupture after Heimlich maneuver. We present an interesting case of fatal hemoperitoneum due to a hilar laceration of the spleen following a correctly performed Heimlich maneuver.

From the *Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Legal Medicine, University of Padova, Via Falloppio; †Department of Diagnostic Science and Special Therapies, Pathology Unit, University of Padova, Via Giustiniani, Padova; and ‡Department of Emergency, Hospital of Rovigo, Viale Tre Martiri, Rovigo, Italy.

Manuscript received May 20, 2008; accepted July 19, 2008.

Reprints: Giovanni Cecchetto, MD, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Legal Medicine, University of Padova, Via Falloppio, 50, 35121 Padova, Italy. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.