This project aims at improving the diagnosis of drowning (or to lend support for the notion that drowning had not occurred). Diatoms in the water that enter the lungs may cross the alveolar-capillary barrier through drowning-induced ruptures and can then be distributed to, and trapped in the capillaries of remote tissues via the blood circulation. The diatoms can be extracted from tissue samples and analyzed microscopically. In collaboration with Stockholm University the extracts are studied using light microscopy with either bright field, dark field, phase contrast or polarization. We have also used Scanning Electron Microscopy for better identification of family/species. We are currently using protein K for digestion of the organic material. Although the method is today available in the routine casework, we continue to analyze more samples from drownings and non-drownings to obtain larger sets of data to provide a more firm information about sensitivity and specificity. Our plan is also to evaluate alternative extraction methods, and to investigate possible rapid screening options.
PI: Henrik Druid, firstname.lastname@example.org