Lethal Epistaxis

J Forensic Sci. 2016 Sep;61(5):1244-9. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13119. Epub 2016 Jun 10.


Epistaxis or nosebleed refers to bleeding from the nostrils, nasal cavity, or nasopharynx. Occasional cases may present with torrential lethal hemorrhage. Three cases are reported to demonstrate particular features: Case 1: A 51-year-old woman with lethal epistaxis with no obvious bleeding source; Case 2: A 77-year-old man with treated nasopharyngeal carcinoma who died from epistaxis arising from a markedly neovascularized tumor bed; Case 3: A 2-year-old boy with hemophilia B who died from epistaxis with airway obstruction in addition to gastrointestinal bleeding. Epistaxis may be associated with trauma, tumors, vascular malformations, bleeding diatheses, infections, pregnancy, endometriosis, and a variety of different drugs. Careful dissection of the nasal cavity is required to locate the site of hemorrhage and to identify any predisposing conditions. This may be guided by postmortem computerized tomographic angiography (PCTA). Despite careful dissection, however, a source of bleeding may never be identified.

Keywords: epistaxis; forensic science; lethal hemorrhage; trauma; tumor; vascular malformation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / complications
  • Epistaxis*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / complications