Other Organ Weights

If the recovery time of a body is short—i.e., within 6 h of death—then certain organ weights may be increased in asphyxiation and drowning cases relative to other types of trauma (141). In one study, the effects of asphyxiation increased the mean organ weights for the lungs, kidneys, liver, and spleen compared with trauma deaths (141). Mean heart

Fig. 9. Discoloration of petrous ridges (arrows). "Hemorrhage" in middle ears in a drowning case. (Courtesy of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, NC.)

and brain weights remained the same in the trauma, asphyxia, and drowning cases. Prolonged submersion can reduce organ weights (141). Small "anemic" spleens have been observed in drownings, but considerable overlap exists in the range of weights when compared with controls (144). Sympathetic stimulation with organ contraction is a proposed mechanism (144). Histological evaluation of the quantity of blood in the splenic sinuses reveals no differences (144). The autopsy finding of a small, anemic spleen in drowning is likely a postmortem change caused by prolonged submersion (141).

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