Post-mortem diagnosis of anaphylaxis: A difficult task in forensic medicine

Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Jan 30;204(1-3):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.04.039. Epub 2010 Jun 1.


The lack of reliable laboratory biomarkers and common standard definitions of signs and symptoms represents the main problem for clinicians when a suspected anaphylactic event must be diagnosed, while a post-mortem diagnosis of anaphylaxis is often a very difficult task in forensic medicine. Significant necroscopic signs as well as the data reported from witnesses or medical records may be absent, biological fluids as blood or urine may be unavailable or under thanatological modifications. The aim of this review is to focus on the diagnostic difficulties with which coroners and forensic pathologists have to cope when a confirmation of anaphylactic death is required by judicial authorities. Investigation methods for a prudent forensic diagnosis of anaphylactic death as well as the need of new potential laboratory or histological investigation techniques coming from immunological research are discussed too.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / diagnosis*
  • Chymases / metabolism
  • Edema / pathology
  • Eosinophilia / pathology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Medical History Taking
  • Methylhistamines / urine
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Pulmonary Edema / pathology
  • Respiratory System / pathology
  • Tryptases / metabolism


  • Methylhistamines
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Chymases
  • Tryptases
  • N-methylhistamine