Forensic identifications of drowning deathbythe use ofdiatom analysis

Mahipal Singh Sankhla, Mayuri Kumari, Manisha Nanadan and Rajeev Kumar

Diatom frustules continue examined commonly during autopsies of deaths due to drowning. Diatoms are unicellular microorganisms which are commonly found in almost all water bodies. Their silica wall plays significant tool in forensic diatomology. Diatom analysis has been suggested to provide supportive evidence of drowning but the consistency and applicability of quantitative and qualitative diatom analysis in the diagnosis of drowning is still tentative in the literature. Diatom test has been extensively applied to detect post mortem or antemortem drowning and comparing the diatoms found in biological sample with those found in water sample indorses that death took place, probably in same water medium. Death by drowning is the result of encumbering of respiration by comprehensive or partial submersion and subsequent entry of water into the air passages. If the person is still alive when entering the water, diatoms will enter the lungs if the person inhales water and drowns. The diatoms are then carried to distant parts of the body such as the brain, kidneys, lungs and bone marrow by circulation. Diatoms found inside the body of a drowned victim may serve as corroborative evidence in the diagnosis of cause of death. The diatom test stands as the only direct screening test for drowning.

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