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Changes After Death. Dr. Raid Jastania. Changes After Death. Decomposition Why do we need to know: Not to misinterpret these changes Help to determine time (place) of death. Early Changes. No breathing, no circulation Fall in blood pressure Metabolism gradually stops

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changes after death

Changes After Death

Dr. Raid Jastania

changes after death2
Changes After Death
  • Decomposition
  • Why do we need to know:
    • Not to misinterpret these changes
    • Help to determine time (place) of death
early changes
Early Changes
  • No breathing, no circulation
  • Fall in blood pressure
  • Metabolism gradually stops
  • Loss of neoronal activity
    • No reflexes, no corneal reflex, fixed dilated pupils, eye looses the tension
early changes4
Early Changes
  • Primary Flaccidity: complete loss of tone
  • Muscle may be still reactive for hours (focal twitching)
  • Pale skin and conjunctiva
  • Face may remain blue/red
  • ?? Hair continues to grow
  • Loss of sphincter action: pass urine, semen, regurgitation of food
rigor mortis
Rigor Mortis
  • Lack of oxygen – no energy – no ATP – glycolysis – lactic acid – acidic cytoplasm – actin and myocin bind
  • “Stiff Muscle”
  • Factors affects Rigor Mortis:
    • Level of glycogen
    • Level of lactic acid
    • Body built
    • Temperature, weather
rigor mortis6
Rigor Mortis
  • What is Rigor mortis like if death occurs after
    • exercise,
    • electric shock,
    • in infant,
    • in elderly
    • In summer
    • In winter
rigor mortis7
Rigor Mortis
  • Starts in small muscle around eyes and mouth, jaw, fingers,
  • Then spreads from head to legs
  • Estimated time of death:
    • In face: 1-4 hours
    • Limbs: 4-6 hours
    • Increase in strength for the next 6-12 hours
    • Decomposition starts
    • Secondary flaccidity from 24-50 hours
rigor mortis8
Rigor Mortis
  • Body feels warm & Flaccid: <3 hours
  • Body feels warm & Stiff: 3-8 hours
  • Body feels cold & stiff: 8-36 hours
  • Body feels cold & flaccid: > 36 hours
cadaveric rigidity
Cadaveric Rigidity
  • Forensic rarity
  • Stiffness of muscle occurring immediately at time of death
    • Finding items in hands
    • ?emotional/physical stress at death
post mortem hypostasis lividity
Post Mortem Hypostasis (Lividity)
  • No circulation, relaxation of blood vessels
  • Blood moves to dependent area
  • Positioning of body: supine, prone, on side, on head, hanging
  • Pink-blue color of the dependent area
  • May not be apparent in infants, elderly, anemic
  • Difficult to see in dark skin, jaundice
post mortem hypostasis lividity12
Post Mortem Hypostasis (Lividity)
  • Blanching:
    • Around face (not asphyxia)
  • Color:
    • Pink – deep pink – blue – purple
    • Cheery pink: in carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Dark red: in cyanide poisoning
    • In hypothermia: pink around large joints
  • Movement of body and change in lividity!
cooling of the body after death
Cooling of the body after Death
  • Physical property
  • Assumptions:
    • Temperature was 37 at the time of death
    • Thermally static environment
cooling of the body after death14
Cooling of the body after Death
  • Variables:
    • Mass of body
    • Surface area
    • Body temperature at death
    • Site of reading
    • Posture
    • Clothing
    • Environment temperature
    • Winds, humidity, rain
estimation of the time of death
Estimation of the time of Death
  • Body temperature
    • Rectal, ears, nose, liver
    • Henssge’s Nomogram
      • Body temperature
      • Ambient temperature
      • Body weight
  • Other methods
    • Gastric contents
    • Entomologist
    • Anthropologist
  • Air
  • Dry, wet
  • Water
  • The most common route of decomposition
  • Liquifaction of the soft tissue over time
  • The warmer the temperature, the earlier the process
  • Visible 3-4 days
  • Green discoloration in the right iliac fossa
  • Marbling of skin: linear branching ptterns of brown discoloration of skin
  • Blistering, skin sloughs off
  • Gas formation, swelling of body: face, abdomen, breast, genitalia
  • Increase internal pressure, protrusion of tongue, eyes,
  • Bloody fluids
  • Within a week: body cavity will burst
  • Tissue liquify
  • Dry condition, eg. Dessert
  • Drying and leathery body
  • Part or whole body
  • Wet condition, water
  • Chemical change of body fat to waxy compound material
  • Pale, greasy semi fluid material, unpleasant smell
  • Firm waxy compound material: takes weeks to months to form
  • More quickly to occur on the surface than in burried body
  • Soft tissue will be absent by 2 years
  • Tendon, ligaments, hair nails may remain
  • By 5 years bone disarticulate
  • Living: coma, amnesia, infancy, mental defect
  • Decomposed body
  • Following injury
  • Mass disasters
general morphologic features

Height, weight

Hair color, length

Beard, moustache

Skin pigmentation

Ethnic background

Eye color

Clothing, jewellery

Tatoo, surgical scars

Injuries, deformities



Ossification center

General Morphologic Features
  • Chance of identical finger print is: 1 in 64 million
  • Identical twins
  • Identification of person
  • Age
  • Bite marks
identification of origin of tissue
Identification of origin of tissue
  • Why:
    • Blood, semen, saliva..
    • Come from suspect for victem
    • Match of human remains
    • Resolve paternity/maternity
identification of origin of tissue29
Identification of origin of tissue
  • DNA profiling:
    • Matching
    • Paternity, maternity
    • Sampling:
      • Nucleated cells: wbc, hair root bulb cells, sperms, buccal smear..
identification of origin of tissue30
Identification of origin of tissue
  • Human Remains
    • Are they human
    • Is it one or more bodies
    • Sex: skull, pelvis
    • Age
      • Up to 20-25 years, age can be estimated within couple of years
      • >25 years more difficult to estimate