Positional asphyxiation in adults. A series of 30 cases from the Dade and Broward County Florida Medical Examiner Offices from 1982 to 1990

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1992 Jun;13(2):101-7.


Over a 9-year period, 30 cases of positional (or postural) asphyxia were identified in the Dade and Broward County (Florida) Medical Examiner Offices. The victims had an average age of 50.6 years with no significant sex or racial differences as compared with the general medical examiner population. Chronic alcoholism or acute alcohol intoxication was a significant risk factor in 75% of cases and these had an average postmortem ethanol concentration of 0.24 g%. Signs of mechanical asphyxiation (petechiae and/or combined lung weights greater than 900 g) were present in 93% of cases. Victims were commonly (43%) found in a restrictive position producing hyperflexion of the head and neck. Two deaths involved restraint vests ("poseys") in elderly, demented, wheel-chair-confined victims. Scene photographs of the undisturbed decedent are extremely helpful in confirming a suspicion of postional asphyxia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / pathology
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Asphyxia / etiology*
  • Asphyxia / pathology
  • Asphyxia / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Risk Factors