Forensic Pathology:: Lecture 11
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Forensic Pathology:: Lecture 11
BU Forensic Pathology
Decomposition and Time of Death
What are the three changes after death?
____ mortis is the stiffening of the body after death.
_____ mortis will reflect the posture of the body in the several hours following death.
What is the timing associated with rigor mortis?
-becomes noticeable 1/2 to 3 hours after death
-complete in 6 to 12 hours
-begins to disappear 24 to 36 hours
What factors can accelerate the onset of rigor mortis?
-increased environmental temperature
-increased body heat
-strenuous physical activity at the time of death
-frail or non-muscular body
____ mortis is the dilation of blood vessels and settling or pooling of blood in the dependent portions of the body after death.
True or False: Livor mortis occurs only on the surface of the body.
Livor mortis can occur on both the skin and internal organs.
____ mortis will reflect the posture of the body if the body is moved several hours after death.
What is the timing associated with livor mortis?
-purple discoloration ma appear in 15 to 30 minutes
-at maximum is occurs 8 to 12 hours
-will be fixed and non-blanching after about 12 hours
Sometimes the color of lividity is important. What does a cherry red color imply? What does a green color imply?
cherry red: carbon monoxide, cyanide poisoning, cold temperatures
green: hydrogen sulfide poisoning
What factors can delay and accelerate the onset of livor mortis?
Delay: hemorrhage, cold temperatures
Accelerate: heat, sepsis, heart failure
____ mortis is the cooling of the body after death.
True or False: Under average conditions the body should feel cold after 12 hours.
Many variables affect algor mortis. What are some of them?
-body temperature at time of death
-amount of body fat
-amount of clothing or bedding
-temperature of surface the body rests on
What is autolysis?
the softening and liquefaction of tissues due to digestive action of enzymes released from cells
What is Putrefaction?
bacteria from intestines invade the body, spreading through the blood, and convert the soft tissue to liquid and gases
What is the general order of decomposition?
1. intestines, pancreas, gallbladder
2. liver, blood, spleen
3. brain and spinal cord
5. kidneys and bladder
6. skeletal muscles
7. uterus and prostate
Decomposition at 2 to 3 days
-greenish discoloration over the right lower quadrant of the abdomen, which then spreads up over the abdomen and chest
-drying of fingertips and lips
Decomposition at 1 week
-most of the trunk is discolored greenish/purple
-vessels show purple/brown coloring known as marbling
-outer layer of skin may loosen and form subcutaneous blebs
Decomposition and the 2nd week
-maximum gas production
-intestines and abdomen are distended first
-blood stained fluid forced from body orifices
-all tissues distend with gas causing generalized swelling of the body
-tongue protrudes and globes of eyes protrude
Decomposition at 3-4 weeks
-hair and nails loosen
What factors accelerate decomposition?
-heavy clothing or bedding
What factors delay decomposition?
-refrigeration/ cold environment
-exposure to cool surfaces