Postmortem diagnosis of acute anaphylaxis by serum tryptase analysis: A case report

M. Q. Ansari, J. L. Zamora, M. F. Lipscomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Systemic anaphylaxis is an acute allergic emergency resulting from generalized mast cell degranulation. In the United States, it is estimated that anaphylaxis accounts for about 500 deaths each year. Hymenoptera-sting hypersensitivity is one of the most common causes of systemic anaphylaxis. The authors report a case of a healthy 26-year-old man who developed acute anaphylaxis after a bee sting, could not be resuscitated, and died within 1 hour. At autopsy, performed 14 hours after the event, the only pathologic findings were laryngeal edema and congestion of lung. Postmortem tryptase levels in the blood were obtained and were instrumental in confirming a diagnosis of acute anaphylaxis. This case is reported to discuss the difficulties associated with using traditional histamine levels in making a diagnosis of anaphylaxis and to validate the value of using tryptase levels of document acute anaphylaxis as a cause of death, even when serum is not obtained until many hours after death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-103
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993


  • Anaphylaxis
  • Mast cell
  • Postmortem
  • Tryptase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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