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01.01.2015 | original article | Ausgabe 1-2/2015

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 1-2/2015

Injury pattern in correlation with the height of fatal falls

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 1-2/2015
Stephanie Arbes, Prof. Andrea Berzlanovich



Death due to blunt trauma as a sequel of falls, as a cause of an increased life span is expected. The aim of this retrospective study was to examine the correlation between the height of fall and the frequency, the extensiveness, and the type of injuries of certain body regions and organs.


The study included 201 cases of fatal falls, which consisted 118 male and 83 female cases. All subjects were assessed in a standard autopsy for height of fall, cause of death, and injury pattern.


Concerning the height of fall, 111 (55.2 %) cases involved falls on a plane level, 72 (35.8 %) from one level to another lower level, less than 5 meters, and 18 (9 %) cases from one level to another lower level, more than 5 meters. Mean age at the time of death was 66.7-years-old (range 22–98). The immediate cause of death was in 94 cases blunt head trauma, in 40 cases cardiovascular diseases, in 56 cases bronchopulmonal diseases, in 3 patients Polytrauma, in 5 patients multi organ failure, and in 3 patients other causes were identified. At the autopsy, 66 patients showed fractures of the skeletal system. The most common cause of death independent from the height of fall was head trauma with 46.7 %.


Both post-mortem findings and medical and psychiatric history, in conjunction with the findings at the death scene and toxicology results have to be considered to obtain the clearest possible picture of the circumstance of death.

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