A vital reaction refers to a finding that indicates that the deceased was alive at the time of an injury or exposure. The absence of a vital reaction suggests that the person was dead at the time.


Some examples of a vital reaction:

(1) soot in the lungs of someone exposed to smoke in a fire

(2) pulmonary fat embolism following long-bone fracture

(3) bone marrow edema at the site of an acute fracture

(4) bleeding from the ear or into soft tissues of the neck during strangulation

(5) retrograde blood aspiration


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