Forensic aspects of water intoxication: four case reports and review of relevant literature

Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Jul 10;220(1-3):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.01.021. Epub 2012 Feb 4.


Water intoxication (WI) is a rare condition that originates from over-consumption of water, with a potentially fatal outcome. Increased water intake (polydipsia) is followed by urination of high amount of diluted urine (polyuria) which are the main initial symptoms of WI. We present four case reports of WI. Two of them are unusual pediatric clinical cases using medical documentation and police case files, one of which is related to child abuse, and the other to a psychiatric disorder. The other two cases are fatal adult cases submitted to autopsy from a psychiatric hospital. Also, we present a diagnostic algorithm for polydipsia and polyuria before death. WI is usually seen in patients with psychiatric disorders, victims of child abuse or torture, drug abusers or it can be iatrogenically induced.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Furosemide / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polydipsia / diagnosis*
  • Polydipsia, Psychogenic / diagnosis*
  • Polyuria / etiology
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Sodium / analysis
  • Urinary Bladder / pathology
  • Vitreous Body / chemistry
  • Water Intoxication / pathology*
  • Water Intoxication / psychology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / drug therapy
  • Water-Electrolyte Imbalance / etiology*


  • Diuretics
  • Furosemide
  • Sodium
  • Potassium