The detection of diatoms into the organs is considered an important “biological marker” for the diagnosis of drowning in human pathology, but it still has a high possibility for false positive results. The aims of this study were: (1) to evaluate the contribution of pathological examination in drowning cases and (2) to investigate the differences in the number and location of diatoms between animals who died in drowning and non-drowning conditions. For these purposes, 30 dead adult dogs were selected for the study and subdivided into five groups. The group A comprised six cadavers dead for drowning; the group B comprised six control animals; the groups C, D, and E comprised six animals dead for causes other than drowning and subsequently immersed in water for 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively. On each animal, a complete macroscopic and histological examination and diatom test were performed. Diatoms test and quantification were also performed on drowning mediums. Pathological findings of the animals in the group A showed pulmonary congestion, oedema, and hemorrages in the lung. However, similar injuries were also observed in control and experimentally submerged cadavers. In contrast, we observed a statistically differences between drowning animals and all experimentally submerged groups and control animals regarding diatom numbers recovered from organ tissue samples (p < 0.05). Therefore, these findings suggest that the number of diatoms may be used as a valid tool to differentiate animals who died in drowning and non-drowning conditions, even if the latter were found in an aquatic environment.
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