Volume 35, Issue 6 (November 1990)
Differences Between Multisite Postmortem Ethanol Concentrations as Related to Agonal Events
In a study of postmortem ethanol concentrations, blood was withdrawn from the right atrium, ascending aorta, and inferior vena cava. These samples, vitreous humor, and gastric fluid were analyzed in 307 autopsies, where a minimum blood ethanol concentration of 0.05% weight/volume (w/v) was present.
Premortem, agonal, and postmortem events were reviewed in an attempt to account for differences in blood ethanol concentrations between sites. The agonal aspiration of vomitus having at least 0.80% w/v ethanol appears to be associated with an increase in aortic ethanol concentrations. We conclude that valid interpretation of postmortem ethanol concentrations must take into consideration the possible entry of ethanol into the pulmonary venous circulation via the respiratory system.