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November 1933


Author Affiliations

Professor of Neurology, University of Illinois College of Medicine; Attending Neurologist, Cook County Hospital


From the Laboratory of Neuropathology of the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Arch NeurPsych. 1933;30(5):1046-1060. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1933.02240170098006

As in cases of fatalities that are caused by lightning or by contact with powerful industrial currents, death in so-called legal electrocution is caused by an electric shock. Whereas the extent and the nature of accidental electric injuries to various organs—the skin, muscles and heart—have been repeatedly studied, histopathologic investigations of the central nervous system in cases of legal electrocution are scarce. Such studies may even seem superfluous, for the etiologic factor is the same in all forms of death by electricity. Yet differences in the histologic changes in the nerves may be expected. For instance, in legal electrocution the current always enters the cranial cavity and traverses the entire central nervous system; the strength of the current is known; its action is more prolonged than that in accidental electrocution, and death is practically instantaneous. As the general physical condition of a condemned subject is good, his central nervous system

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