Scientific article

Fatal Cervical Spine Injury From Diving Accident

Published inThe American journal of forensic medicine and pathology, vol. 36, no. 2, p. 79-83
Publication date2015

Spinal cord injuries result after diving into shallow water, often after incautious jumps head first into water of unknown depth during recreational or sport activities. Mortality is generally due to upper cervical trauma. The authors present a case of a diving-related death in a young woman who underwent medicolegal investigations. The measured water depth at the supposed dive site was 1.40 m. Postmortem radiology and autopsy revealed fractures of the body and the posterior arch of the fifth cervical vertebra, a fracture of the right transverse process of the sixth cervical vertebra and hemorrhages involving the cervical paraspinal muscles. Neuropathology showed a posterior epidural hematoma involving the whole cervical region and a symmetric laceration of the spinal cord located at the fourth and fifth cervical vertebra level, surrounded by multiple petechial hemorrhages. Toxicology revealed the presence of ethanol in both blood and urine samples. The death was attributed to cervical spine fracture (C5-C6), spinal cord contusion, and subsequent drowning. This case highlights the usefulness of postmortem radiology, examination of the deep structures of the neck, toxicology, neuropathology, and a detailed research of signs of drowning to formulate appropriate hypotheses pertaining to the cause and mechanism of death.

  • Cardioinhibitory reflex
  • Celiac plexus
  • Sudden death
  • Martial arts
Citation (ISO format)
VOLAND, Christelle et al. Fatal Cervical Spine Injury From Diving Accident. In: The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology, 2015, vol. 36, n° 2, p. 79–83. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000176
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal0195-7910

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