Although fatal colchicine intoxications are rare and mostly related to suicidal intake or accidental overdose, other hypotheses should be considered when dealing with colchicine poisoning. We present a case of double, acute, and subacute, fatal colchicine intoxication in a married couple. The 70-year-old male victim suddenly died after vomiting and diarrhea. The next day his wife showed aggravating gastrointestinal symptoms and was hospitalized with a diagnosis of septic shock. A complete postmortem examination on the man was performed, together with histopathological analysis. Toxicological examination performed through liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry revealed a colchicine blood peripheral concentration of 33 ng/mL. A few days after hospitalization, the woman showed a colchicine plasma concentration of 32 ng/mL. Despite veno-venous hemofiltration, she ultimately died of septic shock and multi-organ failure. Death scene investigation revealed that, a few days before the death of the male victim, the couple had collected wild saffron and had eaten a presumed saffron risotto. The integrated analysis of circumstantial, clinical, postmortem and toxicological data allowed to establish that the couple had died of a fatal accidental intoxication due to the ingestion of natural colchicine, mistaken for saffron. The death of the male was deemed caused by acute cardiovascular collapse induced by acute intoxication, while the female had suffered a subacute poisoning by antimitotic agent, resulting in immunosuppression and systemic infection. Toxicological analyses, promptly performed on the man for forensic purposes, directed the investigations and suggested the clinical diagnosis on the woman.

Two fatal intoxications by colchicine taken for saffron. Clinical, medico-legal and forensic toxicological implications

Giorgetti A.;Nalesso A.;Cecchetto G.;Pizzi M.;Bellan A.;Viel G.
;
Montisci M.
2019

Abstract

Although fatal colchicine intoxications are rare and mostly related to suicidal intake or accidental overdose, other hypotheses should be considered when dealing with colchicine poisoning. We present a case of double, acute, and subacute, fatal colchicine intoxication in a married couple. The 70-year-old male victim suddenly died after vomiting and diarrhea. The next day his wife showed aggravating gastrointestinal symptoms and was hospitalized with a diagnosis of septic shock. A complete postmortem examination on the man was performed, together with histopathological analysis. Toxicological examination performed through liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry revealed a colchicine blood peripheral concentration of 33 ng/mL. A few days after hospitalization, the woman showed a colchicine plasma concentration of 32 ng/mL. Despite veno-venous hemofiltration, she ultimately died of septic shock and multi-organ failure. Death scene investigation revealed that, a few days before the death of the male victim, the couple had collected wild saffron and had eaten a presumed saffron risotto. The integrated analysis of circumstantial, clinical, postmortem and toxicological data allowed to establish that the couple had died of a fatal accidental intoxication due to the ingestion of natural colchicine, mistaken for saffron. The death of the male was deemed caused by acute cardiovascular collapse induced by acute intoxication, while the female had suffered a subacute poisoning by antimitotic agent, resulting in immunosuppression and systemic infection. Toxicological analyses, promptly performed on the man for forensic purposes, directed the investigations and suggested the clinical diagnosis on the woman.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3337036
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