<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 25, Issue 2, June 2017

Rom J Leg Med25(2)152-157(2017)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine

Fatty degeneration in renal tissue in cases of fatal accidental hypothermia

E. Doberentz, P. Markwerth, B. Madea,

Abstract: The expression of morphological findings in cases of death due to hypothermia varies from case to case. The characteristics mainly depend on the difference between the body core temperature and the air or water temperature as well as the velocity of cooling. The diagnosis of fatal hypothermia is typically based on macro-morphological findings such as Wischnewsky spots and erythema of the skin of the large joints in combination with the circumstances of death. One reported micro-morphological finding of premortal hypothermia is cellular vacuolization of the renal tissue. Therefore, fatty degeneration of renal tissue was investigated in a study group which included 41 cases of death due to accidental fatal hypothermia and a control group of 45 deaths without known hypo- or hyperthermal temperature exposure prior to death. Fatty degeneration was found in the renal tubular epithelium as well as in the capillary loops of the glomeruli. In the study group 34 cases (82.92 %) presented a positive Sudan reaction with an intensive expression. In contrary, only 20 cases (44.44 %) of the control group stained positive, the majority of which (95.0 %) only in a weak graduation. Fatty degeneration of renal tissue (tubular epithelium as well as glomeruli) seems to be a reliable diagnostic histopathological marker of hypothermia. A correlation between the expression of renal fatty degeneration and the expression of macro-morphological signs such as Wischnewsky spots or cold erythema of the skin could not be found.
Keywords: Fatty degeneration, hypothermia, kidney, Sudan staining, vacuolization.

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