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Minerva Forensic Medicine 2022 December;142(4):66-70

DOI: 10.23736/S2784-8922.22.01827-1

Copyright © 2022 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

The first Italian suicide death due to helium inhalation: first histological findings and pathogenesis

Andrea MARZULLO 1, Federica MELE 2, Mariagrazia CALVANO 2 , Mirko LEONARDELLI 2, Francesco INTRONA 2

1 Section of Pathology, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, Bari, Italy; 2 Section of Legal Medicine, Department of Interdisciplinary Medicine, University of Bari, Bari, Italy



Suffocation by inhaled helium gas is rarely reported in literature and no data are reported on histopathological modifications due to inert gases. We report the first Italian case of suicide by helium inhalation and related histopathological findings. The lung samples showed enlargement of alveolar spaces, congestion of interstitial capillaries, focal intra-alveolar hemorrhages, and oedema fluid in the alveoli. The myocardial tissue showed congested interstitial capillaries, hemorrhagic interstitial spots, and sporadic wavy myocardial fibers. A multiorgan extensive congestion with focal hemorrhages would confirm the hypoxic damage due to the helium inhalation and makes this histologic pattern highly suggestive of such type of suicide. To our knowledge, this is the first case reporting the microscopic data of helium inhalation, useful for the explanation of the pathogenesis of this cause of death.


KEY WORDS: Forensic pathology; Suicide; Asphyxia; Helium

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