A Guide to the Postmortem Investigation of Starvation in Adults

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2022 Sep 1;43(3):205-214. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000763. Epub 2022 May 19.


Starvation is a rare cause of death in developed countries and is a complex multifaceted pathological process. To complicate the forensic investigation of starvation further, many medical conditions independent of starvation may cause wasting. This article provides one of the first comprehensive guides to the postmortem investigation of starvation in adults, with reference tables on organ-specific macroscopic and microscopic features, as well as features for excluding alternative causes of wasting. The eclectic literature on this complex topic is summarized in an accessible and easily referenced format, including mechanisms of death and ancillary postmortem investigations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Humans
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Starvation* / pathology