Field of Science

TMI Friday: I'll never look at carrots the same way again

Carrots are a brilliant and versatile vegetable.You can grate them into salads, you can roast them and you can even try frying them. We humans have such great degrees of ingenuity that we are forever finding new uses for this vegetable.
However, today we'll be talking about one freak incident in which one person found a novel use for a carrot, with unfortunate consequences.
It begins with a corpse and a mystery. The woman was discovered in bed, dead. There were signs of trauma on the body. So what killed this woman ?
An autopsy revealed air bubbles in the woman's heart, as well as air bubbles within the surviving blood vessels. This woman had been killed by an air embolism. An air embolism occurs when air enters the circulatory system, and blocks up the passage of blood into the heart. It's similar to air locks that happen in plumbing systems. Only this can be deadly. Because you need blood to flow through your body to live.

But what caused this air embolism ? Perhaps the carrot that was found nestled between the dead woman's thighs may be a clue. They tested the surface of the carrot using a PAP staining kit, and found that vaginal cells were on its surface. This carrot had been inserted into the woman's vagina at some point prior to death.
But did it play a role in her death ?
It is important to note that this woman had an intrauterine device as well. This woman's death may have been an unfortunate freak accident that occurred when she masturbated with the carrot. The theory is that the intrauterine device damaged the surface of the vaginal walls, exposing blood vessels. The carrot acted like a piston, pushing air into the vagina, and into the exposed blood, causing air bubbles to enter the blood stream.
This freak set of events turned an innocent tryst with a carrot into an event with fatal consequences.

Marc B., Chadly A. & Durigon M. (1990). Fatal air embolism during female autoerotic practice, International Journal of Legal Medicine, 104 (1) 59-61. DOI:

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