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AIM: We report a particular case study of the unexpected death of a 70-year-old caucasian man (affected by crohn’s disease) due to the laceration of the ileocolic mesentery and its blood vessels following a colonoscopy procedure carried out only a few hours previously.
MATERIAL OF THE STUDY: The autopsy showed that the lacerated blood vessels (i.e. the collateral and terminal branches of the superior mesenteric artery), which run along the section of the intestines between the end of the ileum and the ascending cecum, had led to a severe intra-abdominal hemorrhage and, consequently, fatal hemorrhagic shock.
RESULTS: In such cases, both an autopsy and complete histological analysis are essential in order to determine the exact point responsible for the intestinal hemorrhage and to better understand the pathological mechanism involved.
DISCUSSION: The unexpected death due to severe peritoneal hemorrhaging following a minimally invasive diagnostic clinical procedure, such as a colonoscopy, is particularly rare in Literature. In fact, amongst the several endoscopy procedures commonly used today, it is one of the safest procedures with the lowest recorded rate of complications. Furthermore, it is an even rarer event that a routine diagnostic colonoscopy can result in a fatality, with only two cases reported.
CONCLUSIONS: In the case of sudden death following such a routine diagnostic clinical procedure, the forensic scientist should not disregard the fact that also damage, which appears negligible (caused by the normal procedures used in carrying out a colonoscopy) can actually also result in severe and fatal hemorrhaging.