Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 649–652 | Cite as

Fatal poisoning with diethylene glycol in an unusual setting

  • Daniel WittschieberEmail author
  • Katrin Heuberger
  • Ronald Schulz
  • Helga Köhler
  • Karin Varchmin-Schultheiß
Images in Forensics


Morphological findings in cases of intoxication are relatively rare in forensic pathology. In this article we report on a 26-year-old man who drank clear fluid from a tequila bottle that was given to him by a friend. Afterwards, the clear fluid was assumed to be smoke fluid containing diethylene glycol (DEG). The man died eight days later. Macroscopic and microscopic examination of the kidneys and the liver at forensic autopsy revealed findings typical of a DEG intoxication. In addition, the clinical course showed the typical triphasic pattern of symptoms. Toxicological analysis confirmed the presence of DEG in both the original smoke fluid and the tequila bottle. In conclusion, death was due to fatal intoxication by DEG. While most DEG intoxications have been mass poisoning incidents attributed to pharmaceutical products, the present case describes an unusual example of a single decedent.


Diethylene glycol Fatal intoxication Kidney necrosis Forensic histology 



Mr. Jan Schilling is gratefully acknowledged for proof-reading the English manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

The article does not include participants that require their informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital MünsterUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Legal Medicine, Jena University HospitalFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany

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