Heat, Fire, Electricity, Lightning, Radiation, and Gases

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer


The effects of heat, fire, electricity, lightning, radiation, and gases can produce a wide range of histopathological findings. For example, heat damage to the respiratory epithelium due to heat inhalation injury is as histopathologically detectable as is heat damage to the skin. Due to their characteristic histopathology, electrical burns can often only be identified as such using microscopy. The effects of a lightning strike manifest as burns to the skin and damage to internal organs in the form of microscopically detectable necrosis. Malignant hyperthermia, in contrast, is primarily considered to be a toxic reaction to foreign substances and, on its own, barely detectable using histopathology. Tissue damage following local exposure to radiation can be identified histopathologically. Tissue damage due to the inhalation of gases affects first and foremost lung tissue, e.g., following the inhalation of chlorine gas. Depending on survival time, secondary damage due to heat, fire, radiation, and/or gas exposure can be detected histopathologically; this damage is often highly relevant to the chances of survival.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhard B. Dettmeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.University Hospital Giessen Institute of Forensic MedicineGiessenGermany

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