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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 75

of 'Rare complications of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)'

Fatal air embolism during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): An 'impossible' diagnosis for the forensic pathologist.
Marchesi M, Battistini A, Pellegrinelli M, Gentile G, Zoja R
Med Sci Law. 2016;56(1):70. Epub 2015 Jul 24.
Fatal air embolism related to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a very rare phenomenon. The authors describe the case of a 51-year-old female patient who developed this mortal complication; a computed tomography (CT) examination was performed in articulo mortis by the physicians. Autopsy was unreliable because of bizarre post-mortem changes (reabsorption of intra-cardiac gas vs. conservation of intra-cranial gas) and a lack of strong diagnostic value of histological findings. The right diagnosis was possible thanks only to the CT examination that permitted the assumption of this possible cause of death before the autopsy and to prepare the necessary procedures to recognise and probe air embolism. This case exemplifies how early post-mortem imaging can be crucial to avoid a wrong diagnosis.
Sezione di Medicina Legale e delle Assicurazioni, Universitàdegli Studi di Milano, Italy.