Volume 50, Issue 1 (January 2005)
Forensic Dermatopathology and Internal Disease
The gross and microscopic analysis of skin lesions at autopsy can help the pathologist understand diseases and injuries inflicted premortem, perimortem, or postmortem. From January 2003 to January 2004, skin findings at autopsy were closely examined by a dermatologist and sampled for microscopic analysis at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences. Dermatologic abnormalities in some of these cases led to the discovery of internal disease and allowed for a more complete understanding of the pathologic disease processes affecting the individual. We present four autopsy cases with skin manifestations of internal disease, including pseudoxanthoma elasticum, calciphylaxis, the sign of Leser Trelat, and papular mucinosis, and demonstrate the usefulness of the dermatological assessment at autopsy. In all cases, discovery of these skin lesions and internal disease manifestations allowed contributing factors to the death of the individual to be uncovered.