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Chapter: Forensic Medicine: Asphyxia

Classification of asphyxic deaths

The following is a classification of the causes of asphyxic deaths.

Classification of asphyxic deaths

The following is a classification of the causes of asphyxic deaths. The fact that this type of death occurs in so many situations indicates the importance of asphyxia as cause of death.

1)          Suffocation

decreased atmospheric oxygen tension (pressure)

a)           low barometric pressure

b)          displacement by inert gasses (nitrogen [N2]; carbon dioxide [CO2])

2)          Smothering

obstruction of the external airways

3)          Choking

obstruction of the internal airways

4)          Impairment or respiratory movements (mechanical asphyxia)

5)          Pressure on neck

a)           Throttling pressure exerted by hands on the neck

b)          Strangulation pressure exerted by a ligature on the neck (without the weight of the body having an effect)

6)          Hanging

pressure exerted by a ligature on the neck due to the effect of the body weight

7)          Auto-erotic deaths

8)          Drowning

a)           Immersion without aspiration

b)          Drowning with aspiration

 

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