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Scurvy—characteristic features and forensic issues


Byard, RW and Maxwell-Stewart, H, Scurvy characteristic features and forensic issues, American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology pp. 1-4. ISSN 0195-7910 (2018) [Substantial Review]

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DOI: doi:10.1097/PAF.0000000000000442


Scurvy is a multisystem condition that arises from vitamin C deficiency. As humans cannot synthesize vitamin C, serum and tissue levels depend on bioavailability, utilization, and renal excretion. Deficiencies result in defective collagen formation with swelling of gums, leg ulceration, and bleeding manifestations. Death most often results from infection and hemorrhage. In a forensic context, scurvy may mimic inflicted injuries and may be responsible for sudden death by mechanisms that remain unclear. Cardiac failure and rhythm disturbances with chest pain, hypotension, cardiac tamponade, and dyspnea are associated with vitamin C deficiency. In addition, syncope and seizures may occur. Although far less common than in previous centuries, scurvy is still present in high-risk populations that include alcoholics, isolated elderly individuals, food faddists, institutionalized patients, those with mental illness, and those who have had bariatric surgery or with underlying gastrointestinal conditions. Scurvy should therefore be a diagnosis to consider in medicolegal cases of apparent trauma and sudden death.

Item Details

Item Type:Substantial Review
Keywords:scurvy, history of medicine, deficiency disease
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:History and philosophy of specific fields
Research Field:History and philosophy of medicine
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding past societies not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Maxwell-Stewart, H (Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart)
ID Code:130577
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP140100623)
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-02-04
Last Modified:2019-02-04

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