Role of Diatoms in Diagnosis of Death Due to Drowning: Case Studies
International Journal of Medical Toxicology and Forensic Medicine,
Vol. 7 No. 1(Winter) (2017),
3 May 2017
Background: The most frequent use of diatoms in forensic science is the diagnosis of death due to drowning. The basic principle of diatom test in drowning is based on the inference that diatoms are present in medium where drowning took place and the inhaled water enters the alveolar spaces of lungs and penetrates from the alveoli into the blood circulation, thus microscopic unicellular algae called diatoms get transported to different organs of body. The diatoms found inside the body of drowned victim may serve as corroborative or even conclusive evidence to support the diagnosis of death. It can be ascertained whether the drowning is ante-mortem or post-mortem.
Case Report: The present study was conducted in Biology and Serology Division of State Forensic Science Laboratory, Shimla Hills Junga, Himachal Pradesh, India. Water sample from putative site of drowning as well as hard bones (sternum, clavicle, femur), soft tissue (spleen, liver, kidney) and peritoneal/pleural cavity fluid after post-mortem examination of dead body was sent to the Laboratory for the detection of diatoms. Cases were opened and processed following standard methodology. In the present study, 17 cases of drowning were examined for detection of diatoms. Out of seventeen cases, there were 15 males and 2 females aged between 11-63 years. 12 cases revealed the presence of diatoms (death due to drowning) while 5 were found to be negative (death other than drowning).
Conclusion: The present study revealed the importance of diatom test in forensic investigation and diagnosis of death due to drowning. Diatom test proved very significant application in forensic science in solving the drowning cases.
- Bone Marrow
- Acid Digestion
How to Cite
Timperman J. The diagnosis of drowning-a review. J Forensic Sci. 1972;1:397-409.
Krstic S, Duma A, Janevska B, Levkov Z, Nikolova K, Noveska M. Diatoms in forensic expertise of drowning – a Macedonian experience. Forensic Sci Int. 2002;127:198-203.
Pollanen MS, Cheung L, Chaisson DA. The diagnostic value of the diatom test for drowning utility: a retrospective analysis of 771 cases of drowning in Ontario, Canada. J Forensic Sci. 1997;42:281-285.
Pollanen MS. Diatoms and homicide. Forensic Sci Int. 1998;91:29-34.
Punia RK. Diatoms: Role in drowning. J Indian Acad Forensic Med. 2011;33(2):184-6.
Kumar A, Malik M, Kadian A. Role of diatom test in forensic science for examination of drowning cases. Report and Opinion. 2011;3(9):1-5.
Parmar P, Rathod GB, Rathod S, Parikh A. Nature helps to solve the crime-Diatoms study in case of drowning death. IAIM. 2014;1(3):58-65.
Malik MK, Jakhar P, Kadian A. Role of diatoms in forensic investigation: case studies from Haryana. Int J Forensic Sci Pathol. 2013;1(3):11-2.
Verma K. Role of diatoms in the world of forensic science. J Forensic Res. 2013;4:181.
Singh R, Singh R, Kumar S, Thakkar MK. Forensic analysis of diatoms-A review. Anil Aggrawal’s Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. 2006;7(2).
Vinayak V, Mishra V, Goyal MK. Diatom fingerprinting to ascertain death in drowning cases. J Forensic Res. 2013, 4:207.doi:10.4172/2157-7145.1000207.
Ranga Rao GSRKG, Jakkam S, Prasad GKV. A comparative study of drowning in and around Kakinada, two years retrospective study. Sch J App Med Sci. 2014;4D:1397-401.
Sasidharan A, Resmi S. Forensic diatomology. Health Sciences. 2014;1(3).
Peabody AJ. Diatoms in forensic science. J Forensic Sci Soc. 1978;17:81-7.
Hurlimann J, Feer P, Elber F, Niederberger K, Dirnhofer R, Wyler D. Diatom detection in the diagnosis of death by drowning. Int J Legal Med. 2000;114(1-2):6-14.
Piette MHA, De Letter EA. Drowning: still a difficult autopsy diagnosis. Forensic Sci Int. 2006;163(1-2):1-9.
Peabody AJ. Forensic Science and Diatoms. In: Stoermer EF, Smol JP. The Diatoms: Applications for the environmental and earth sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999;413-8.
Peabody AJ. Diatoms and drowning-A review. Med Sci Law. 1980;20(4):254-61.
Dayan A, Morgan R, Trefty R, Paddock T. Naturally occurring diatomaceous pneumo-coniosis in sub-human primates. J Comp Pathol. 1978;88:321-5.
Schneider V. Detection of diatoms in the bone marrow of non-drowning victims. Z Rechst. 1980;85:315-7.
Porawski F. Investigation on the occurrence of diatoms in organs in death from various causes. J For Med. 1963;13:134-87.
Karkola K, Neittaanmaki H. Diagnosis of drowning by investigation of left heart blood. Forensic Sci Int. 1981;18:149-53.
Foged N. Diatoms and drowning-once more. Forensic Sci Int. 1983;21:153-9.
Pollanen MS. The diagnostic value of the diatom test for drowning validity: Analysis of diatoms in bone marrow and drowning medium. J Forensic Sci. 1997;42:286-90.
Neidhart DA, Greendyke RM. The significance of diatom demonstrations in the diagnosis of death by drowning. Am J Clin Pathol. 1966;48(4):377-82.
Sitthiwong N, Ruangyuttikarn W, Vongvivach S, Peerapornpisal Y. Detection and identification of diatoms in tissue samples of drowning victims. Chiang Mai J Sci. 2014;41(5.1):1020-1031.
Peabody AJ. Diatoms in Forensic Science. J Forensic Sci Soc. 1977;17:81-7.
Ludes B, Quantin S, Coste M, Mangin P. Application of simple enzymatic digestion method for diatom detection in the diagnosis of drowning in putrefied corpses by diatom analysis. Int J Leg Med. 1994;107:37-41.
Horton BP, Boreham S, Hillier C. The development and application of a diatom based quantitative reconstructiontechnique in forensic science. J Forensic Sci. 2006;51(3):643-50.
Li Q, Ma KJ, Zhang XD, et al. Diatom test in lung tissue of corpse in water and cause of death. J Forensic Med. 2011;27(5):324-6.
Magrey AS, Raj M. Role of diatoms in forensic diagnosis of drowning cases from Jammu & Kashmir, India. Biosci Biotech Res Comm. 2014;7(1):72-7.
Racz E, Konczoi F, Toth D, et al. PCR based identification of drowning: four case reports. Int J Legal Med. 2016;130(5):1303-7.
- Abstract Viewed: 12655 times
- PDF Downloaded: 2306 times