Drowning (postmortem findings)

Drowning is one of the most prevalent causes of non-natural death with typical postmortem imaging findings. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 360,000 annual deaths occur due to drowning.

This article concerns itself with postmortem appearances in fatalities from drowning. For non-fatal pulmonary changes please refer to near-drowning pulmonary edema

Drowning describes the process of submersion of at least the face in a liquid medium, followed by respiratory impairment and aspiration of fluids into the respiratory tract. Drowning is, therefore, a form of asphyxia. While aspiration of fluid into the lungs, known as "wet drowning", is most common, "dry drowning" without fluid aspiration occurs in about 10-15% of cases.

Drowning presents with a number of typical but not highly specific findings 2:

Article information

rID: 54262
System: Forensic, Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Dry drowning (post mortem findings)
  • Wet drowning (post mortem findings)
  • Drowning (post mortem findings)
  • Drowning (postautopsy findings)
  • Drowning (PM findings)

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Cases and figures

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