Article Type

Original Study


Objectives The aim of the present study was to detect histopathological and immunohistochemical changes in the heart of albino rats after low-voltage electrocution in an attempt to confirm the diagnosis of electrocution as a proximate cause of death. Background Electrical injuries are often dramatic accidents and are potentially fatal. Many victims of electric shock die before help arrives and survivors may suffer severe injuries. Forensic pathologists have made several attempts to find an effective means to establish the cause of death by electrocution. Familiarity with both the incidence of the problem and the mechanism of injuries may lead to a more skillful means of diagnosing this type of death. Materials and methods Twenty-six adult male albino rats were divided randomly into two main groups: control group (I) and experimental group (II). The control group (I) included 10 rats that were killed by cervical dislocation without any application of electrical current. The experimental group (II) included 16 rats that were electrocuted until death by a 220 V alternating current with the points of electrical contact placed on the skin of the left forelimb and the skin of the right hind limb. Sections from the hearts of both groups were fixed in formalin and routinely processed. Caspase-3 expression was evaluated in both groups by immunohistochemistry. Results Areas of interstitial hemorrhage, necrotic, and fragmented cardiomyocytes, square or rounded nuclei, myocardial waviness, and contraction bands were the prominent histopathological findings in the heart specimens of the rats of the electrocuted group (II) in comparison with the control group (I). Also, they showed a positive immune reaction for caspase-3 when compared with the control group. Conclusion This study concluded that the histopathological changes and immunohistochemical findings, besides the circumstantial evidence and external marks that may be found at autopsy, may provide a basis for the diagnosis of deaths caused by electrocution in suspected cases associated with limited external findings. Thus, it is advisable to use these techniques routinely in examinations and for the diagnosis of all deaths suspected to have been caused by electrocution.