Histopathological Changes in Skin after Electric Current Injury: An Autopsy Study HC01-HC04
Dr. Akash Deep Aggarwal,
14-Desi Mehmandari, Patiala-147001, Punjab, India.
Introduction: With the proliferation of electrical equipment and devices, there is a rise in deaths due to electrocution injuries. There may be allegations of electric burns either by way of accident or torture. Many a times no specific findings may be present to support such a claim. Electric contact mark is pathognomic of electrocution.
Aim: To decide whether the electric current mark was antemortem or postmortem in nature or no conclusion regarding the same can be drawn even after histopathological examination.
Materials and Methods: The present study was conducted on 40 dead bodies brought to the mortuary of a Tertiary Care Institution, Government Medical College, Amritsar, Punjab, India, with history of death due to electric shock over a period of two years. Another 20 corpses, who had not died due to electric current injury, but were given the same after death, were taken as control. All the 40 cases were thoroughly examined for medicolegal purposes at the time of conducting postmortem examination and findings were recorded as per proforma attached. Skin was examined for the wound of entry and exit (if any) of electric current injury. Skin biopsies, from the electric current sites of the deceased, were taken from the edge of the wound and subjected to histopathological examination.
Results: About 85% cases had visible electric current injury. Involvement of clothes was seen in 15% cases. Microscopic findings included bulla (22.5%), flattened papillae (47.5%), erosions (12.5%), charring (45%), nuclear changes (2.5%), vacuolisation (12.5%) and necrosis (62.5%). In the 20 control cases studied, charring of the skin was present in the epidermis/dermis and no other change was observed.
Conclusion: Histopathological changes can be used as supportive evidence in giving cause of death in such cases.