Journal List > Korean J Leg Med > v.37(3) > 1004700

Korean J Leg Med. 2013 Aug;37(3):119-128. Korean.
Published online August 29, 2013.
© Copyright 2013 by the Korean Society for Legal Medicine
Comparison of Pathologic Findings by Seawater or Fresh Water Drowning on the Experimental Animals
Jeong-Won Hong,1 Sung Chul Lim,2 and Youn Shin Kim1
1Department of Forensic Medicine, Chosun University School of Medicine, Gwang-ju, Korea.
2Department of Pathology, Chosun University School of Medicine, Gwang-ju, Korea.

Corresponding author (Email: )
Received July 23, 2013; Revised August 06, 2013; Accepted August 23, 2013.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Death by drowning is a major cause of unnatural death worldwide. It is therefore important to conduct forensic examination of immersed bodies following drowning, in order to determine the diagnosis of drowning, because no specific methods have been established thus far. Therefore, we performed a series of rat experiments to compare autopsy findings between seawater and fresh water drowning cases, which included the presence of pleural effusion and histologic findings of the lung. The results showed that the volume of pleural effusion increased in the seawater drowning group compared to the fresh water drowning group, and the total weight of lung was affected by the type of drowning medium and postmortem interval. However, histologic findings of the lung showed no significant difference between the 2 types of drowning mediums.

Keywords: Drowning; Seawater; Fresh water; Pleural effusion; Lung weight


Fig. 1
Thoracic cage was opened to examine the volume of pleural effusion (a: seawater, 2 hr ; b: seawater, 20 hr ; c: postmortem, seawater, 20 hr ; d: freshwater, 2 hr ; e: freshwater, 20 hr ; f: postmortem, freshwater, 20 hr).
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Fig. 2
Histogram shows rat's lung weight depending on the experimental condition.
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Fig. 3
Photograph shows ventral surface of the lung (a: seawater, 2 hr ; b: seawater, 20 hr ; c: postmortem, seawater, 20 hr ; d: freshwater, 2 hr ; e: freshwater, 20 hr ; f: postmortem, freshwater, 20 hr).
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Fig. 4
Histologic section of rat's lung tissues shows alveolar edema, perivascular edema, alveolar hemorrhage and bronchiolar hemorrhage (a: 3+ of alveolar edema in #18, H&E, × 200 ; b: 3+ of perivascular edema in #4, H & E, × 200 ; c: 3+ of alveolar hemorrhage in #20, H & E, × 200 ; d: 3+ of bronchiolar hemorrhage in #14, H & E, × 200).
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Table 1
Summary of Experimental Condition and the Results Including Correlation with Pleural Effusion and Lung Weight
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Table 2
Summary of Histologic Changes of Lung according to Experimental Condition
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