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Medicine, science, and the law

Serum strontium estimation as a medico-legal diagnostic indicator of drowning.


PMID 2664410

Abstract

In order to corroborate the medico-legal diagnosis of vital submersion we reviewed the appropriate literature and tested Icard's initial hypothesis, already expressed in 1932, that Strontium might be a good indicator of sea-water drowning. Therefore, we examined all the bodies found either in fresh or in sea-water, and also non-drowned control cases. Strontium concentrations in both cardiac cavities and in a peripheral blood-vessel were determined by flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The statistical evaluation of the results is hereby presented. We come to the conclusion that this determination can be a valuable additional proof for sea-water drowning diagnosis, whilst freshwater drowning would be more difficult to assess. Further investigations are being undertaken.