Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Unexpected outcome
Body piercing with fatal consequences
  1. N Ranga1,
  2. A J Jeffery2
  1. 1University Hospitals Leicester, Leicester, UK
  2. 2Forensic Pathology Unit, Level 3, Robert Kilpatrick Building, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr N Ranga, natasha.ranga{at}


Body modifications such as piercings, tattoos and surgery have increased in popularity in recent times and have become more socially acceptable. The common complications of piercing different parts of the human anatomy are well-documented, including sepsis, allergic reactions and, more rarely, endocarditis and ischaemia. Deaths related to piercing complications are primarily septic in origin. In this case, a man in his 50s died due to complications of his multiple umbilical piercings. The cause of death was unusually linked to body modification; the umbilical piercings had ultimately led to a mesenteric infarction. Cases such as these are forensically important due to potential manslaughter charges that could be brought against a piercing establishment. More importantly, this case highlights another extreme complication of body modification. Fashion statements are always changing and impact upon many lives. It is important to highlight to people the potentially life-threatening complications of common piercing practices.

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.