Benefits of otoscopy in forensic autopsy practice: A prospective study

Authors: Štěpánka Kučerová 1;  Petr Hejna 1;  Martin Dobiáš 2
Authors‘ workplace: Ústav soudního lékařství LF UK a FN Hradec Králové 1;  Ústav soudního lékařství a medicínského práva LF UP a FN Olomouc 2
Published in: Soud Lék., 61, 2016, No. 2, p. 14-17
Category: Original Article


The otoscopy is an examination of the external auditory canal, the eardrum, and the middle ear with an instrument called an otoscope. It is a simple, inexpensive, and time-saving endoscopic method typically used by general practitioners and otorhinolaryngologists. Authors present a prospective study of otoscopic findings investigated consecutively at autopsy. Of the 250 examined persons, 50 positive findings were identified: 38 cases with petechial hemorrhages and 12 cases with tympanic membrane perforation or hemotympanon. Hemorrhages of the tympanic membrane detected through the otoscopy may serve as evidence of congestion within head and neck potentially associated with asphyxiation either in the death or in the living (similar to periorbital and conjuctival petechial hemorrhages). In our study, hemorrhages of the tympanic membrane were related to heart failure, hanging and asphyxiation. Perforated tympanic membrane and hemotympanum have been sporadically reported in victims of fatal lightning strike and rarely in strangulation. This findings were in our study associated with craniocerebral injuries: traffic accidents, falls from height and gunshot injuries. The otoscopy may help to reveal various traumatic and pathological changes within the outer and the middle ear, and, thus, provide important forensic evidence. The otoscopy is also highly recommended in the investigation of the sudden deaths in the young.

endoscopy – otoscopy – forensic medicine – autopsy – the eardrum – petechial hemorrhage


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Anatomical pathology Forensic medical examiner Toxicology
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