Diatom studies

This project aims at improving the diagnosis of drowning. Diatoms in the water that enter the lungs will cross the alveolar-capillary barrier and will be distributed to, and trapped in the capillaries of remote tissues via the blood circulation. These diatoms can then be extracted from tissue samples and analyzed microscopically. In collaboration with Stockholm University the extracts are studied using conventional bright field microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). We have established a method protocol based on protein K digestion of the organic material. The method is today available in the routine casework, but studies are ongoing to generate more reference data for drownings and non-drownings, and a method for screening of extracts for silicon will be evaluated.