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Relationship of red splenic arteriolar hyaline with rapid death: a clinicopathological study of 82 autopsy cases

Hirokazu Kotani*, Masashi Miyao, Sho Manabe, Tokiko Ishida, Chihiro Kawai, Hitoshi Abiru and Keiji Tamaki

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Department of Forensic Medicine and Molecular Pathology, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Yoshida-Konoe-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan

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Citation and License

Diagnostic Pathology 2012, 7:182  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-7-182

Published: 31 December 2012



Little is known about the relationship between splenic arteriolar hyaline and cause of death. The purpose of this retrospective study was to evaluate the clinicopathological significance of splenic arteriolar hyaline in autopsy cases and estimate the applicability of hyaline for diagnosing the cause and rapidity of death.


Archival data and histological slides from 82 cases were reviewed retrospectively. One section of each spleen was evaluated microscopically. The tinctorial pattern of splenic arteriolar hyaline was examined with Heidenhain’s Azan trichrome stain, and the relationships between this pattern and age, cause of death, and rapidity of death were investigated.


Fifty-four cases demonstrated hyaline change, with 3 different tinctorial patterns: red, blue, and a combination of red and blue. The 3 patterns coexisted in various proportions in each tissue section. Frequency of the blue pattern increased with age (P < 0.01) and was unrelated to cause of death. By contrast, the red pattern was unrelated to age and appeared with different frequency according to cause of death. The red pattern appeared with significantly higher frequency in the circulatory disease group and the drowning and asphyxia group (both P < 0.01). Moreover, the presence of the red pattern had high specificity for the detection of rapidly fatal cases. The combination of the 2 colors was excluded from clinicopathological analyses due to its admixed nature.


Estimation of splenic arteriolar hyaline with Heidenhain’s Azan trichrome stain is useful for assessment of the cause and rapidity of death.

Virtual slides

The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: webcite

Splenic arteriolar hyaline; Tinctorial pattern; Azan stain; Cause of death; Rapidity of death