Introduction: electrocution is a passage of a relevant electrical current through human body tissues. Low voltage electrocution requires a direct contact to be effective, while high voltage electrocution does not need necessarily a direct contact with the subject to be effective. In the latter case it is sufficient to be in proximity of the electrical source to be reached by an “electrical arc”. The physical basis of electrocution are well known: once incorporated into a closed electrical circuit, the human body is an excellent pathway for electron streaming, being the skin layer the only (weak) defensive barrier. The skin resistance is the reason for the presence of cutaneous marks (electrical marks or electrical burns): such marks are usually present at the entry site, but they can sometimes be present at the exit site as well. When the electrical current enters the body, electrons run through the pathway of least resistance, trying to have the shortest way before exiting the body. Amperage (current flow: voltage/resistance) and time of contact are the most important physical factors in electrocution. In lethal electrocutions the electron streaming must run through vital structures (brain and brain stem, heart, ventilatory muscles) and the careful analysis of the skin marks (entry and exit marks) can help the pathologist to find out the specific electron pathway and the specific death mechanism (irreversible brain injury, cardiac arrythmias, respiratory arrest). Methods: it is reported a case of a young boy who was electrocuted while playing an electric guitar in a Milan guitar shop. The boy was immediately taken to the hospital, where he died 9 hours after the accident. The autopsy was carried out in Milan City Morgue. Results: at the autopsy, patterned electric marks, both on the palm of the left hand and on the right forearm, were found: the marks reproduced exactly the shape of the guitar (left hand: guitar handle; right forearm: guitar body). The marks were dark brown, dry and hard, with raised edges and a central zone of substance loss. The morphology and the topography of the marks clearly indicated the guitar as a source for the electrocution. Skin samples from the marks were analyzed histologically: classical findings of epidermis/dermis vacuolation and stretching of basal epidermis cells were found. Conclusions: the reported case is unusual for the source and the dynamic of the electrocution. It is the case of an accidental death occurred to a young boy who was playing a guitar in a crowded guitar shop. According to the topography of the skin marks, the death was probably caused by a combined mechanism “cardiac arrythmias-respiratory arrest”.
|Titolo:||Case of a death due to electrocution while playing an electric guitar|
|Autori interni:||GENTILE, GUENDALINA (Penultimo)|
|Parole Chiave:||lethal electrocution ; electrical arc ; electric marks ; electric guitar|
|Data di pubblicazione:||21-giu-2007|
|Tipologia:||Book Part (author)|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||03 - Contributo in volume|