The body of Michael Jackson has been autopsied by an Indian American pathologist Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran
; the toxicology results are yet to be revealed.
Toxins /drugs are often favoured to induce death as they leave no visible evidence
. It is precisely for this reason that forensic toxicology tests are often done to determine the reasons, especially in the case of sudden deaths or when poisoning is suspected.
Forensic toxicology tests
are carried out in forensic labs by pathologists to determine the nature of poisoning and the time of death.
An overdose/illegal dose of prescription or non prescription drugs, alcohol or nutritional supplements can be swallowed, inhaled, injected or absorbed through the body surface or mucous membrane, either forcefully or accidentally, causing death in an individual.
During the autopsy
, which takes 2-3 hours, the body is opened and the organs removed for further tests.
The best place to look for these toxins are blood and urine samples
. It is easier to do a urine test than a blood test because drugs last longer in the urine and hence show up easily during the tests.
If a drug overdose
is suspected, as in MJ's case, liver, brain and fat tissue specimens would also be removed.
will be examined to check for clots that could have prevented blood flow.
Next the heart
is removed to check for hardening of the arteries, coronary artery blockage or ruptured aorta. Examination of the heart is very vital in the case of sudden death.
The heart would also be weighed to look for diseases or viral infections.
Blood vessels in the abdominal areas
will also be checked for rupture and bleeding.
In some cases, stomach contents, saliva, sweat, liver and vitreous humor (liquid in the eye cavity) may also be analysed to identify toxins.
A forensic toxicology tests can do a check for a single drug or for 30 drugs
all at a time.
If these tests are unable to detect toxins then the toxicology test is negative.
If that is the case injecting air through the vein or suffocation using a pillow may be suspected as the cause of sudden death.
It may be 2-3 weeks for the toxicology tests of Michael Jackson to be revealed. Till then it may be a long vigil for his doting fans across the world!
Dr Reeja Tharu/S