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Petechia

German: Petechie

1 Definition

A petechia is a small capillary bleeding of the skin or mucosa that has diameter of less than 3 millimeters.

2 Causes

The appearance of petechia - e.g. during a tourniquet test - indicates hemorrhagic diathesis, vasculitis or thrombocytopenia. Another possible cause for the occurrence of petechiae is overdosage of antiplatelet drugs (antiaggregants).

3 Clinical relevance

Petechiae cannot be pushed away using a glass spatula or a finger. Even under pressure, the reddening of the skin remains visible. This shows that petechiae are caused by extravasated fluid, which differentiates it from different red rashes, e.g. small hemangiomas.

Petechiae that appear in the periorbital region are sometimes observed after epileptic seizures.

4 Forensic medicine

Periorbital petechiae in the region of the head of a corpse indicate venous obstruction in the course of strangulation. The cause are obstructed veins of the neck, whereas blood flow through the carotid arteries continues.

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