eISSN: 1689-1716
ISSN: 0324-8267
Archiwum Medycyny Sądowej i Kryminologii/Archives of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
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vol. 64
Case report

Lethal poisoning with theophylline in the form of rectally administered tablets

Paweł Kopacz, Karol Kula

Arch Med Sąd Kryminol 2014; 64 (3): 158–164
Online publish date: 2015/02/06
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The paper discusses the case of death of a 56-year-old man who died in a municipal hospital from which his body was taken to the Chair and Department of Forensic Medicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow. The man was said to have been found unconscious by accidental passers-by. While being transported to the hospital’s emergency department, he suffered an attack of convulsions and went into cardiac arrest. He was subsequently successfully resuscitated. A physical examination performed at the hospital revealed the presence of multiple, only slightly dissolved tablets in the man’s rectum. The patient died on the 25th day of hospitalization. A toxicological analysis showed a toxic concentration of theophylline (25 mg/l) in the man’s blood. Theophylline was identified as the main ingredient of the tablets. The cause of death was thus given as theophylline poisoning. The reported case is unusual in that the poisoning occurred as a result of overdosing on an oral drug which was administered by the victim rectally, and in that the chosen substance currently is not very commonly used in medicine, and does not cause symptoms of intoxication.

theophylline poisoning, rectal overdose


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