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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

150

MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

the platysma and sterno-mastoid, are likely to be ruptured only when con-
siderable violence has been used in hanging. The inner and middle coats
of the carotid arteries may be found lacerated with extravasation of blood

within their walls, if there has
been a sudden drop as in judicial
hanging. Similarly, fracture or
dislocation of the upper cervical
vertebrae together with com-
pression or laceration of the
spinal cord may be noticed. In
rare instances, the processes of
the thyroid cartilage may be
fractured, but the hyoid bone is,
as a rule, not fractured.

The epiglottis is frequently con-
gested. The^ mucous membrane
of the trachea is found to be red
and congested containing a fine
bloody froth in some cases. Very
rarely, it is found to be lacerated

Jjguthe case of constriction oc-
curring at the end of expiration
the lungs are congested, oede-
matous and exude bloody serum
on being cut, but are pale if con-
striction occurred at the end of
inspiration. Sub-pleural ecchy-
moses are very rare. The right
side of the heart, the pulmonary

Fig.  43.—Front view showing a ligature
mark of hanging in the neck and drib-
bling of  saliva from the right angle  of
the mouth.

artery and venaB cava3 are full of dark fluid blood, and the left side is empty.
<?The abdominal organs are usually congested. The brain is usually normal,
but may be pale or congested according to the mode of death.

s.-^;rhe medico-legal questions likely to arise in

a case of hanging are

1.  ^JQiether death was caused by hanging.

2.    Whether the hanging was suicidal, homicidal or accidental.

1. Whether Death was caused by Hanging. — In India, it is a common
practice to kill a victim, and then to suspend the body from a tree or a rafter
to avert suspicion. It is, therefore, necessary to find out if hanging was the
cause of death in a suspended body.

Jhe_jpresence of a ligature-mark alone is not diagnostic of death from
hanging, inasmuch as, being a purely cadaveric phenomenon, it msfy be
produced if a body has been suspended after death. Casper x has illustrated
by experiments that a mark similar to one observed in persons hanged alive
can be produced if suspended within two hours or even a longer period after
death. Besides, a similar mark may also be produced by dragging a .body,
along the ground with a cord passed round the neck soon after death. ^S(>w-
ever, one can safely say that death was due to hanging, if, in addition to
the cord mark, there were trickling of saliva from the mouth, ecchymoses
and slight abrasions about the ligature-mark, laceration of the intima of
the carotid arteries with extravasation of blood within their walls and the
post-mortem signs of asphyxia, and if there were no evidence of the signs
of a struggle, fatal injuries, or poisoning.

1.   For&fis,

Eng. TransL, Vol. H, p. 173,