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Richardson: Autopsy Pending As Experts Speculate On Cause Of Death

Mar. 19 2009, Published 2:37 p.m. ET

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Officials from the New York Medical Examiner's Office told they will be looking at Natasha Richardson's body Thursday to determine what exactly killed the actress after a skiing accident Monday.

Colleagues Remember Natasha Richardson

The actress, 45, complained she didn't feel well about an hour after she fell; she was treated at two hospitals in Montreal and New York, respectively, before she died Wednesday.

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Richardson might have been a victim of a rare condition known as "talk and die syndrome," an expert told Newsday. It occurs when people suffer a seemingly harmless blow to the skull, show no ill effects, only to lapse into a coma shortly thereafter.   "It is not a very common occurrence," Dr. Steven Flanagan, medical director of the NYU's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, told Newsday. "A patient comes into the emergency room talking and then rapidly deteriorates" while blood slowly pools, putting pressure on brain tissue. According to a 2007 review in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, "talk and die" patients composed 2.6 percent of head injury victims who died.

Natasha Richardson

Natasha Richardson: Celebrating Her Work

Canadian news outlet reported Thursday that the operations director for the ambulance company requested by ski patrollers at the scene of Richardson's fall said that an ambulance initially alerted to the scene was turned away.

Yves Coderre, director of operations at Ambulances Mont- Tremblant, told the Web site that preliminary reports indicate emergency workers were told they weren't needed and left.

"They never saw the patient so they turned around," he told the Web site, adding that victims of potentially fatal head injuries often believe at first they are fine.



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