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Asphyxia 

Asphyxia
Chapter:
Asphyxia
Author(s):

Jonathan P. Wyatt

, Tim Squires

, Guy Norfolk

, and Jason Payne-James

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199229949.003.0004
Page of

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date: 13 November 2018

Definitions and historical perspective 100

Clinical features of asphyxia 102

Strangulation 104

Hanging 106

Compression asphyxia 108

Smothering 109

Choking 109

Autoerotic asphyxia 110

Drowning 112

The term asphyxia causes much confusion, in particular in relation to its classification and definition. All textbooks emphasize that the term is derived from the Greek ‘absence or lack of pulsation’ but then go on to explain why this does not embrace its subtleties and complexities. Many textbooks describe the etymology of asphyxia and then assign different classifications for it. In fairness, much of the literature originates from forensic pathology where the term has to be used in determining a range of possible causes of death. In many ways, the concept of asphyxia is simple, like the concept of bruising—both can be medicalized and complicated in unnecessary and unhelpful ways. In the clinical setting, such distinctions are perhaps less relevant, because the assessment, documentation, and management of asphyxia survivors (from whatever cause) has different priorities....

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