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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

348                                             MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

twelve or twenty pieces, which are again to be tested as regards their floata-
tion. If these pieces float, they are each squeezed between the thumb and
index finger under the surface of water to see if any bubbles of air are
given off, and if they still persist to float ; or they are taken out of water,
wrapped in a piece of cloth and placed on the floor between two pieces of
card board, when firm and equable pressure is applied by putting a heavy
weight or by standing on the upper card board without any jerky move-
ment. The pieces are once more placed in water, and if they continue to
float after the application of this pressure, the medical jurist is justified in
affirming that respiration has been established. If the lungs sink separately,
or if they float, but the pieces sink after pressure, it means that respiration
has not taken place. If some of the pieces float while others sink it shows
feeble respiration owing to the partial penetration of air.

Objections. — The two following objections have been raised against the
hydrostatic test but, on close scrutiny, neither of them diminishes the value
of the test: —

1.   The expanded lungs may sink from disease or from atelectasis.

2.   The unexpanded lungs may float from the presence of putrefactive
gases or from artificial inflation.

1.   The expanded lungs may sink from —

(a) Disease. — This may be acute oedema or consolidation of the lungs
from pneumonia or congenital syphilis. In such cases the - pathological
conditions characteristic of the disease will be easily detected* either by the
naked eye or by microscopic examination, and it is not likely that both the
lungs will be similarly affected. There will certainly be some portions of
the expanded lungs which will escape the disease and consequently float in
water. In cases of infanticide it is always necessary to examine the lungs
for the evidence of disease to exclude the possibility of their sinking in water
due to this cause.

(6) Atelectasis. — Cases of atelectasis, i.e. non-expansion of the lungs
in childen born alive and surviving for a few hours, though rare, have
occurred, but there is no other test by which this condition can be deter-
mined, and so the test does not lose its value in its general application.
Three explanations8 for the non-expansion of the lungs have been given as
mentioned below : —

(1)  Owing to the feeble respiration, air may not reach the alveoli, but
tie aeration of blood may take place through the lining membrane of the
trad&ea and bronchi,

(2)  Tfae air which entered the lungs may have been entirely absorbed
by me blood after respiration stopped, if circulation continued.   It is a fact
tbai tbe heart of a newly-born infant may continue pulsating for half an
Ihour or more after the stoppage of respiration, or when the infant is in a,
state of asphyxia,

(E) If the respiratory movements are very feeble it is quite possible
for more air than what was taken during every act of inspiration, to Be
expelled from the lungs during expiration owing to the recoil of the lung
tissue. Thus, fee lungs may be emptied of all air, and may subsequently
return to the foetal eoaditioxi.

€ases*~ 4.   AH Sanest was held on the "body of an illegitimate female child exhumed
on €be iGQ$k <ia2f «$ter jfe fetumt   Ifeeie was ample evidence to show that the child Ihrei
hours afcr Us li$£iu   At "fee necropsy the child was found to be a fairly weH~
! fefirlnae foeitis*   *Hse fem@s were found collapsed, and were in a state of
ateleeiaaas.   *Hie hin^ as a whole or when cut into separate pieces did not

Fmrems. if&i» mad Toxic, BL "V£ p. lie,