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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ARSENIC                                                          515

the last dose.80 On the other hand, a case is reported in whicja arsenic was
found in the vomit and faecal matter, but was not found in the viscera when
death occurred after six days.31 A case32 is also recorded, where arsenic
was recovered from the earth mixed with vomit, but not from the viscera,
when death occurred from exhaustion two days after severe vomiting. A
sample of earth taken from the neighbourhood was found to be free from
arsenic.

Arsenic is excreted into the stomach and intestines after absorption,
even when administered by channels other than the mouth. Hence its
detection in these organs does not prove that it had necessarily been adminis-
tered by the mouth. In a case reported by Stitch arsenic was detected in
the stomach contents of a woman who had been poisoned by the introduction
of a large amount in the vagina. In another case of poisoning per vaginara
reported by him it was found in the stomach contents and faeces of a woman,
and also in the organs of her three months' foetus.33

Arsenic becomes fixed in the cancellous tissues of the bones, chiefly the
long ones, owing to the conversion of their phosphates into arsenates. Its
elimination being much slower, its presence can be detected in the bones
long after every trace has disappeared from the other organs, such as the
liver, kidneys, etc. Hence it is essential to preserve the long bones for
chemical analysis in suspected cases of arsenical poisoning -when a body is
exhumed, or when it is very much decomposed. Traces of arsenic were
found by Dr. Hankin, Chemical Examiner, U.P., in the femurs removed from
the body of the late Fulham, which was exhumed in Agra fourteen months;
after death. In a case where death occurred within forty hours of the-
onset of the symptoms of acute poisoning, arsenic was detected in the pieces
of the femur and the viscera which were sent for chemical analysis,34

6.    Deposit of Arsenic*—In acute poisoning arsenic, after it is absorbed,
gets deposited more in the liver than in the kidneys and spleen, and in
chronic poisoning it is also found deposited in the brain, the spinal cord and
the muscular and bony tissues.   In fatal results occurring from salvarsan
poisoning it is interesting to note that arsenic is not found in the brain or
nervous system.35

7.    Power  of Preservation.—Not  only  does  arsenic not  disappear by
putrefaction, but it has the power of retarding decomposition to a certain
extent, especially in cases of its prolonged administration, and the stomach^
and other tissues are often well preserved some months after death, though
this is not always the case.   Thus, the body of the late Fulham of Agra was
well preserved when it was exhumed about fourteen months after death,
even though the grave was a katcha one, and the lid of the coffin had already
given way.

8.    Is Arsenic a Normal Constituent of the Body ?—Arsenic is physio-
logically not a normal constituent of the body, but it is widely distributed
in nature.   It has been found in minute quantities in several varieties of
vegetables36  and on apples37 as the result of spraying fruit trees with
arsenical preparations.   It has also been shown that arsenic is present in the
form of some organic compound in some kinds of fish, such as sole, crusta-

30.   Dixonmann, Forens. Med. and Toxic., Ed. VI, p. 379.

31.    Sind Chemical Analyser's Annual Report, 1923, p. 23.

32.   Bengal Chem. Examiner's Annual Rep., 1947.

33.   Munch. Med. Wochenschr., March 12, 1901, p. 425; Peterson, Haines and Webster,
Leg. Med. and Toxic., VoL IE, Ed. H, p. 237.

34.   UJP. Chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1924, p. 5.

35.   Brit. Med. Jour., April 1, 1916, p. 475.

36.    Jour. Phar. CTiim., 1912 ; Blyth, Poisons, their Effects and Detection, Ed. V, p* 588.

37.    Willcox, Trans. Med.-Leg. Society, VoL XXIH, p. 153.