Mummification the shriveling up of a tissue, as in dry gangrene, or of a dead, retained fetus = Dry, Shriveled up and brown in color !
The Optimum Conditions for Mummification dry & warm climate. Also seen in newborn infants (sterile) Once the changes are complete, the body will remain in that condition indefinitely. No growth of micro organisms. • Mummification is partial • 25% of body wt is preserved.
The time required for complete mummification can’t be precisely stated but it takes several weeks to months, depending on the size of the body and atmospheric conditions.
Medico-legal Importance of Mummification • Identification • Time estimation • Cause of Death • Can detect abnormal pathology inside deep organs
Mummification may occur naturally or may be achieved through artificial methods
How does mummification occur? The natural mummification process usually happens in extremely dry environments that allow the fast dehydration of tissues, simultaneously slowing down or inhibiting the decomposition by bacteria and other microorganisms.
age (it is more common in newborns) • gender (occurs more often in female) • cause of death (large hemorrhages, • ante-mortem prolonged administration of antibiotics • poisoning by arsenic and potassium cyanide Other Factors
What is adipocere? • Also known as "grave wax," adipocere (from the Latin, adipo for fat and cera for wax) • is a grayish-white postmortem matter caused by fat decomposition, which results from hydrolysis and hydrogenation of the lipids (fatty cells) that compose subcutaneous fat tissues.
It occurs in : • subcutaneous fat of the cheeks ,breast, buttocks • may occur in internal organs such as liver , kidney & heart
Although decomposition of fatty tissues starts almost immediately after death, • adipocere formation time may vary from two weeks to one or two months, on average, due to several factors, such as temperature, embalming and burial conditions, and materials surrounding the corpse
the subcutaneous adipose tissue of corpses immersed in cold water or kept in plastic bags may undergo a uniformadipocere formation with the superficial layers of skin slipping off. • Adipoceremay bedry, brittle, & has an odor mostly smells like ammonia.
Moisture is necessary. • The optimum conditions for the formation of adipocere: • wet, warm environment • bacterial activity (C. perfiringes). • It is a grayish, greasy material
Medicolegal Importance of Adipocrere • Preservethe body which can permit identification after death. • It may give conclusions about the cause of death. • It indicates that the time interval since death was at least weeks to several months.
The environment is more important than the time in this process. • 12-18 months: bone and tendon tags • after 3 yrs: bare bone. • In temperate zones the bones will remain solid & heavy with the preservation of bone marrow in long bones for a number of years. • After 40-50 years : • surface of the bone becomes dry & brittle • marrow cavity will be empty.
Estimating the Time of Death • Core body temperature : • the best and the most commonly used • mainly per rectum & by intra/sub-hepatic via an abdominal stab. • Rigor mortis • Hypostasis : • complete after 6 hrs. • Biochemical investigation of the CSF : • requires the determination of the amino acid content & lactic acid & non-protein nitrogen content of the CSF.
4. Eye pressure: • eye balls become softer, and less fluid pressure in the first 3 hrs • 5. Gastric emptying: • depend on type of meal and emotional status. • 6. The entomology of dead: • Studying insects & their maggots which infest the dead body for estimating the probable time of death. • Different types of insects infest the dead body at different stages after death occurs.
7. K level : • all electrolytes in the body change after death except K. • Na/K pump stops working. • There is linear relation b/w K level and time passed after death up to 120 hrs. • Measured from vitrous humor • When there is high urea concentration, there is an electrolyte imbalance and K can no longer be used as an indicator • This is the most infrequently used method to determine post mortem interval. • Many different opinions exist about its accuracy and ability to predict post mortem interval. • Measurement of potassium levels in the eyes can vary greatly from left to right eyes in the same corpse in ideal conditions. • From a medico-legal standpoint, this technique is frowned upon. • This is typically thought of as a “last ditch effort”