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Definition of ecchymotic mask

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

In medical and forensic jargon, the Definition of an ecchymotic mask is accepted as the cyanotic or bluish coloration of the face of a victim of traumatic asphyxia, such as in strangulation or drowning.

But, do you know why it occurs? Do you know the phases that the body goes through during suffocation? In the following FastlyHealarticle, we will give you all the keys so that you understand the origin and meaning of this phenomenon that occurs in our bodies.

What is the ecchymotic mask?

There is a bluish coloration called an ecchymotic mask in the appearance of those who have suffered a hanging or other traumatic asphyxia. However, it is also known as diffuse ecchymotic infiltration or craniofacial cyanosis.

The characteristics are apparent, a uniform bluish tint over large areas of the neck, face, eyelids, and upper chest with a background of dark reddish pinpoint ecchymoses bordering on black.

The cause of the purple coloration is petechial hemorrhages that occur in that area due to strangulation. After local trauma, macrophages degrade blood cells, and when hemoglobin is converted to bilirubin since bilirubin is blue, the meat gives off that cyanotic hue.

The process of suffocation

When the human body suffers a sudden deprivation of oxygen, a series of disorders of all kinds are triggered that end with death if the flow of oxygen is not recovered.

In the first phase, which is known as the brain phase, the subject who is experiencing suffocation begins to suffer emotional disorders such as vertigo, ringing in the ears, anxiety, and fainting. The loss of consciousness is not progressive but appears suddenly, and at this point, the breathing slows down while the pulse quickens.

The second phase of asphyxia, or phase of cortical and spinal excitation, takes about 2 minutes and is when the seizures begin in the face, extremities, and the respiratory muscles such as the abdominal and diaphragm. Due to peristaltic movements, the body expels urine and fecal matter, at the same time that it begins to secrete saliva and sweat. In some cases, erections and ejaculations can also occur. Little by little, the sensitivity and reflex movements disappear; it is also at this moment when the cyanotic mask appears, the heart slows down, and the blood pressure drops hastily.

The third phase, which usually lasts between 1 and 2 minutes, is when the death of respiration occurs. The asphyxia generates a right ventricular insufficiency, which further emphasizes the purple coloration of the face. There is also a sudden acceleration of the heartbeat, although these become increasingly irregular until they weaken and become imperceptible. Eventually, the ventricles stop beating, although the atria may contract for some time.

Causes of suffocation

There are three types of suffocation, and all three cases, depending on the exact cause, can cause the appearance of the ecchymotic mask:

  • Mechanical asphyxia is all those caused by exogenous factors and agents that act through physical mechanisms; submersions, hangings, strangulations, or suffocation are some of its possible triggers. This first type is the cause of most ecchymotic masks.
  • Pathological asphyxia is caused by bronchopulmonary diseases, heart or blood, i.e., caused by inefficient function in the body.
  • The chemical asphyxia has to cause a toxic agent such as cyanide or carbon monoxide.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Definition of the ecchymotic mask, we recommend that you enter our Medical Dictionary category .

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