Drowning- Test

Drowning- Test


Diatom Test

  • Most samples of the water contain microscopic unicellular algae or plankton called diatoms.
  • These diatoms possess silicaceous cell membranes and vary from size 10 to 80 microns.
  • As a result of these hard shells, micro-organisms are heat and acid resistant.
  • Wet drowning
  • Diatom get aspirated along with the inhaled water
  • Then pass into the circulation through ruptured pulmonary capillaries or alveolar walls
  • Finally get distributed to various organs of the body and bone marrow.
  • They are demonstrated histologically
  • Their presence in the victim’s body and the same set of diatoms present in the water, concludes the case to be antemortem drowning.
  • Only live body with a circulation can transport diatoms from lung to brain, bone marrow, muscles etc.
  • So, presence of diatoms in brain and bone marrow indicates death due to drowning.
  • For detection of diatoms, bone marrow of long bones, e.g. femur, tibia, humerus or sternum is highly suitable and reliable.
  • As diatoms resist acid digestion, to extract them acid digestion technique is used.
  • Diatoms test is negative in dead bodies thrown in water and in dry drowning.
  • However, diatoms test is invalid, if deceased had drunk this water before submersion or species of diatoms do not match with specimen from the site of drowning

Gettler Test

  • This is also known as Chloride test.
  • This is done by drawing 10ml of blood from each ventricles of the heart
  • Subjecting it to estimation of chlorides.
  • The normal value of chlorides in each chamber is 600mg%.
  • In sea water drowning, there is said to be 30 to 40% increase of the chloride level in blood in left ventricle
  • While in fresh water drowning, the chlorides get reduced by 50%.
  • But this change is not seen in dry drowning. The practical implication is limited.

Exam Important

Diatom Test

  • Most samples of the water contain microscopic unicellular algae or plankton called diatoms.
  • These diatoms possess silicaceous cell membranes and vary from size 10 to 80 microns.
  • Their presence in the victim’s body and the same set of diatoms present in the water, concludes the case to be antemortem drowning.
  • So, presence of diatoms in brain and bone marrow indicates death due to drowning.
  • For detection of diatoms, bone marrow of long bones, e.g. femur, tibia, humerus or sternum is highly suitable and reliable.
  • As diatoms resist acid digestion, to extract them acid digestion technique is used.

Gettler Test

  • This is also known as Chloride test.
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