The forensic significance of conjunctival petechiae

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1988 Mar;9(1):32-4. doi: 10.1097/00000433-198803000-00008.


Conjunctival petechiae were mentioned in 227 (4.5%) of 5,000 consecutive autopsy reports of the Dade County Medical Examiner Department. They were most frequently observed in those who had died natural deaths (particularly due to cardiovascular disease), followed by those who had died from asphyxia, head injury, and central nervous system disorders. The incidence of conjunctival petechiae in victims of homicidal asphyxiation was 78%. These data suggest that conjunctival petechiae most often are the result of hypoxia coupled with an acute increase in cephalic vascular pressure. The latter factor may be the consequence of mechanical vascular obstruction or acute right heart failure.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Asphyxia / complications
  • Asphyxia / pathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cause of Death*
  • Conjunctiva / pathology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications
  • Homicide
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Multiple Trauma / complications
  • Purpura / epidemiology
  • Purpura / etiology*
  • Purpura / pathology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / complications