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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • forensic pathology;
  • hanging;
  • cervical soft tissue emphysema;
  • Macklin Effect;
  • cervical airways trauma

Abstract:  The underlying mechanism of cervical soft tissue emphysema (CSTE) in hanging remains unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of CSTE in cases of hanging. The sample included 83 deceased persons, average age 55.3 ± 17.9 years. CSTE was established in 44 cases. CSTE is presented as frothy air, soap bubble-like formations in superficial and/or deep connective tissue between the neck muscles up to the ligature mark, visible during gross neck examination, using special neck autopsy technique—preparation of the neck organs in layers. The interpretation of positive CSTE must be taken with caution: it could be an antemortem phenomenon possibly because of either Macklin Effect or direct or indirect trauma to the cervical airways, as well as an ante- or postmortem artifact.