Handbook of Forensic Pathology: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Handbook of Forensic Pathology

2nd Edition

By Vincent J.M. DiMaio, M.D., Suzanna E. Dana, M.D.

CRC Press

326 pages | 21 Color Illus. | 47 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2006-10-31
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Handbook of Forensic Pathology, Second Edition is an up-to-date, concise manual illustrating all core aspects of modern forensic pathology. This edition retains the outline format of the original, which allows for quick access and rapid assimilation. Written in no-nonsense, easily understandable language, this precise and thorough yet compact resource contains extensively detailed entries from two of the nation’s foremost authorities on gunshot wounds and forensic pathology. With numerous instructional charts and diagrams and color photographs, it organizes a wealth of instructional and immediately applicable information.

Features of the second edition include a chapter on nursing home death, added information on gunshot residue, and research on tasers, pepper spray, and excited delirium syndrome. Introducing medicolegal casework and documentation, this book explains protocols for the collection and recovery of evidence and DNA analysis and lists factors used to determine time of death and identity of the deceased. It identifies the natural causes of death in children and adults before devoting the remaining chapters to the myriad of non-natural causes including homicide, suicide, accidental, and undetermined.

With meticulous detail and instant access to extensive information, this handbook is an indispensable tool for forensic pathologists, law enforcement, and legal personnel, as well as pathologists in training.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Medicolegal Casework

Five Categories of Medicolegal Cases

Cause, Mechanism, and Manner of Death

The forensic autopsy versus an external examination

Three steps of medicolegal death investigation

Handling of bodies at the scene

Handling of bodies from a hospital

Handling of bodies at the morgue

Identification of bodies

The Autopsy Report

Heading of report

External Examination

Evidence of Injury

Internal Examination

Microscopic Examination




Physical Evidence

Types of physical evidence

Preservation of physical evidence on the body

Recovery of physical evidence

Procedures for collection of biological evidence

Procedures for collection of nonbiological physical evidence

DNA analysis

Time of Death- Decomposition

Factors used in estimating time of death


Identification of Remains

Intact, nondecomposed human remains

Decomposed or charred, nonskeletonized human remains

Skeletonized human remains

Natural Disease

Causes of Sudden Natural Death in Adults

Cardiovascular disease

Central nervous system disorders

Respiratory system disorders

Gastrointestinal tract disorders

Hepatic disorders

Adrenal disorders

Splenic disorders

Miscellaneous causes of sudden death in adults

Causes of Sudden Natural Death in Infants and Young Children

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Other disorders associated with sudden death in infants and children

Blunt Force Injury





Combination injuries

Blunt force injury to the chest (thorax)

Blunt force injury to the abdomen

Blunt force injury to the genitalia (internal and external)

Skeletal fractures due to blunt force trauma

Extremity injuries due to blunt force trauma

Head injuries caused by blunt force trauma

Neck injuries caused by blunt force trauma

Wounds Produced by Pointed, Sharp-Edged, and Chopping Implements

Stab wounds

Incised wounds

Chop wounds

Gunshot Wounds

Types of small arms




Ballistic comparison of bullets

Theory of wounding

Gunshot wounds

Centerfire Rifle Wounds

Microscopic examination of gunshot wounds

The effects of intermediary targets

Ricochet bullets


Wounds of bone

Caliber determination by size of entrance wounds

Perforation of skin and bone

Gunshot residue



General firearm terminology




Chemical asphyxiants

Neck holds

Deaths During Arrest and in Police Custody: Excited Delirium Syndrome

Deaths occurring during arrest - the Excited Delirium Syndrome (EDS)

Mechanisms of death in EDS

Hogtying - Positional/restraint asphyxia

Choke hold-related deaths


Oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray)

Deaths occurring in jails

Murder of Infants and Children



Deaths in the first 2 years of life

Battered child syndrome

Impulse homicides

Gentle homicide

Shaken baby syndrome

Sexually Related Homicides

Rape homicides

Homosexually related homicides

Evidence of chronic anal intercourse

Fire and Thermal Injuries

Classification of burns according to depth of injury

Burn severity factors

Documentation of extent and pattern of burn

Burn survivability

Clothing and burns

Six categories of burns

Death due to burn injury (immediate or delayed)

Charred bodies

Classification of fire deaths

Antemortem versus postmortem burns

Transportation Deaths

Motor vehicle deaths

Pedestrian deaths

Motorcycle deaths

Bicycle (pedal-cycle) injuries

Aviation-related injuries and death

Environmental Deaths






Ohm's law

Factors determining severity of electrical injury

Low-voltage versus high-voltage deaths

Resistance and current flow

Current flow through body

Electrocution and loss of consciousness

Electrical burns of the skin

Suicidal electrocution

Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)

Investigation of suspected electrocutions

Third rail electrocutions

Electrical shock and pregnancy

Stun guns

Judicial electrocutions

Deaths in Nursing Homes

Deaths in nursing homes

Signs of neglect

Deaths due to hospital bed side rails

Deaths due to medical restraints

Deaths due to Starvation

Malnutrition, starvation deaths in general

Nutrition and body weight

Physical manifestations of starvation

Dehydration deaths

Deaths in Association with Pregnancy

Deaths secondary to complications of pregnancy

Abortion-related deaths

Intraoperative Deaths

Deaths due to underlying disease

Disruption of a vital organ during a procedure

Air embolism occurring during surgery

Anesthetic-related deaths

Cause of death cannot be ascertained

Forensic Toxicology

Forensic toxicology

Tissues to be collected

Collection of materials

Routine testing

Drug screens in medical examiners' offices

Thin-layer chromatography

Immunoassay methods of analysis

Gas chromatography (GC)

High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC)

Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)

Confirmatory testing


Drugs of abuse

Medications commonly associated with overdose


Methyl alcohol and isopropanol

Phencyclidine (PCP)

Drug and chemical blood concentrations


Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science