Post-mortem urinary myoglobin levels with reference to the causes of death

Bao Li Zhu, Kaori Ishida, Li Quan, Mari Taniguchi, Shigeki Oritani, Yasunobu Kamikodai, Masaki Q. Fujita, Hitoshi Maeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


To evaluate pathophysiological significance of post-mortem urinary myoglobin levels in determining the cause of death, we investigated 210 forensic autopsy cases, partially in comparison with serum levels. Post-mortem serum myoglobin levels were extraordinary high in most cases possibly due to post-mortem change. Urinary myoglobin levels did not correlate with the serum levels, showing possible post-mortem elevation in cases of a prolonged post-mortem period over 48 h. A high (>1000 ng/ml), moderate (100-1000 ng/ml), slight (50-100 ng/ml) and not significant (<50 ng/ml) elevation of urinary myoglobin were observed in 26, 43, 31 and 110 cases, respectively. Half the highly elevated cases were those with a survival time over 24 h. In cases of minor muscle injury such as head trauma, elevation of urinary myoglobin level was closely related to longer survival. In acute/subacute deaths with a post-mortem interval within 48 h, a significant difference was observed in relation to the blood carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels of fire victims: myoglobinuria over 100 ng/ml was more frequently and markedly observed in cases with COHb below 60% than over 60%, suggesting muscle damage in fatal burns. Similar elevation was observed in heat stroke victims, and also in some cases of acute and subacute death from polytrauma, asphyxiation, drowning, electricity and spontaneous cerebral bleeding, but not in myocardial infarction. Thus, it was suggested that high post-mortem urinary myoglobin levels in acute and subacute death cases may be a possible indicator of antemortem massive skeletal muscle damage as well as exertional muscle hyperactivity or convulsive disorders associated with hypoxia. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jan 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Burn
  • Forensic pathology
  • Hypoxia
  • Muscle injury
  • Myoglobinuria
  • Post-mortem change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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