<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 31, Issue 2, June 2023

Rom J Leg Med31(2)115-118(2023)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine


M. Focardi, B. Defraia, A. Rizzo, I. Bianchi, A. Grippo, F. Vaiano

Abstract: Blood alcohol content (BAC) assessment in post-mortem (PM) analysis is essential in accessing cause of death. Many factors influence BAC leading to either a decrease or possibly even an increase in its levels. Consequently, discriminating between antemortem ingestion and PM alteration is the primary goal for forensic scientists. In cases of drowning, this evaluation is further hampered by the environmental conditions and by the lack of specific studies on this topic. In this paper, we described the interpretation of BAC in the drowning case of a young man whose corpse remained afloat in the Arno river for 48 days. Alcohol was the only psychoactive substance found in his body and it was quantified in the peripheral and cardiac blood, the gastric content, and in urine in the following concentrations: 3.96. 3.18, 7.21, and 2.34 g/L respectively. Neither n-propanol or iso-propanol were detected. The ratio between urine and blood concentrations (< 1) suggested an absorptive phase and the absence of a PM neoformation. This phenomenon could be explained by the water temperature (approximately < 5-8 °C). Thus, we concluded that the BAC of 3.96 g/L in the femoral vein was a result of ante- mortem ingestion. The significance of this case is the outcome of a protracted period of immersion and is a fine example of how the study of multiple matrices and the adoption of a toxicological-forensic methodology are necessary for reliable data analysis.
Keywords: drowning, BAC, toxicological assessment, postmortem neoformation

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