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Latin, from Greek. a = not + sphuxis = throb (from sphyzein), i.e. cessation of throbbing. Cessation of a pulse is the final endpoint of anoxia, but as asphyxiation is primarily about oxygenation and ventilation, the root word in not entirely accurate.

Interference with oxygenation and/or ventilation, usually mechanical, leading to increasing hypoxia and eventually anoxia.


  • Lack of atmospheric oxygen due to environment
    • enclosed in small space
    • deep well in chalk (accumulation of CO2)
    • grain silo
  • Suffocation
    • e.g. homicide with pillow or accidental with plastic bags
  • Choking
    • usually foreign bodies
  • Strangulation
    • manual
    • ligature
    • hanging(of the non-execution type) "suspension from a ligature".
  • Drowning
  • Traumatic asphyxia -chest compression preventing respiratory movements.


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