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Venous haemorrhage is a rare complication of varicose veins of the legs. Varicosis is found in 15-50% of the population. Haemorrhage from ruptured varicose veins of the legs can occur spontaneously or after a minor trauma. More frequent complications of varicosis include peripheral oedema of the ankles, skin pigmentation and skin ulcers. In case of venous haemorrhage simple possibilities of first aid can be applied, therefore fatal haemorrhage is a rarity. Two cases of fatal varicose vein rupture are presented. A 58-year-old man and a 76-year-old woman, both living alone, were found dead in the bathrooms of their apartments. Significant traces of blood were found in all rooms. Both corpses showed typical signs of death from exsanguination. No traumatic lesion was found. Cause of the haemorrhage was a small lesion of the skin of the lower legs of the victims with continuation to an underlying superficial varicose vein. Misinterpretation of life-threatening varicose haemorrhage, unconsciousnous, alcohol or drug influence, old age and dementia can promote the death. In case of fatal haemorrhage the death scene can simulate crime due to massive traces of blood and may focus primarily on a non-natural death. However, police investigations and autopsy will disclose the rare cause of spontaneous natural death.
Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bonn, Stiftsplatz 12, 53111 Bonn, Germany.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Forensic science international
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Insertion of a catheter into a peripheral artery, vein, or airway for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
A short thick vein formed by union of the superior mesenteric vein and the splenic vein.
Tear or break of an organ, vessel or other soft part of the body, occurring in the absence of external force.
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