Postmortem changes – Early

Postmortem changes – Early


Early changes
  1. Changes in the eye
  2. Changes in the skin
  3. Cooling of the body/Algor mortis
  4. Post-mortem lividity/Hypostasis
  5. Rigor mortis/Cadaveric rigidity
Changes In Eye
  • Corneal Changes;
  • Loss of Clear Glistening
  • Dry, Cloudy and opaque
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Light reflex abolished
  • Intra Ocular tension falls, eyeballs become flaccid and sink in the orbit
  • Blood flow in the retina became dotted and segmented look.
  • Optic disc looks pale.
  • Pupils fully dilated in the early stage and constict later due rigor mortis.
  • Brownish discolouration of the sclera due to cellular debris and dust-Tache noire

Changes in Skin

  • Loss of its translucency
  • Pale and Ashy white appearance
  • Loss of Elasticity
  • Wounds will not gape if it is inflicted after death
  • Wounds caused during life will retain their characteristic features

Cooling Of Body/Algor Mortis

  • Imbalance between heat production and heat loss.
  • Loss of heat of body by means of conduction convection and radiation, till it balances with the temperature of surroundings.
  • Rate of cooling is fast during first few hours and later slows.
  • Temperature is recorded by Chemical thermometer- Thanotometer 25 cms.

Recording of temperature :

  • Normal temp. – Rectal temp.
  • Rate of temp. fall/hour
  • Variation of body temperature
  • Conditions in which heat may be retained or increased.
  • Sunstroke and pontine haemorrhage, disturbed heat-regulating mechanism.
  • Tetanus and strychnine poisoning, due to increase in heat production in the muscle.
  • Acute bacterial or viral infection, lobar pneumonia, typhoid fever, encephalitis, etc.
  • Intense asphyxial conditions- rise of temp by 2-3 c at death“ Postmortem Caloricity”

The rate of cooling of the body is modified by the following conditions;

  • Age
  • Condition of the body
  • Mode of death
  • Surroundings
  • Environmental temperature

Postmortem Lividity

  • It means discolouration or staining of the skin and organs after death due to accumulation of fluid blood in the dependent parts of the body. 
  • Post mortem staining/Hypostasis/Suggilation/ Vibices/ Livour mortis.
  • 1- 3 hr. Starts
  •   6-8 hr. Fixes.
  • Is the fourth stage and one of the signs of death.
  • Purple coloration of dependent parts, except in areas of contact pressure, appearing within 30 minutes to 2 hours after death, as a result of gravitational movement of deoxygenated blood within the vessels. 
  • If the body is lying in moving water, due to constant movement of the body postmortem lividity may not develop.

Colour of post mortem lividity (hypostasis)

  1. Normal – Bluish pink which later turns into bluish purple
  2. Hypothermic- Bright Pink
  3. Carbon monoxide – Bright cherry red
  4. Cyanide – Pink
  5. Phosphorous – Dark brown
  6. Nitrates – Reddish brown
  7. Chlorates – Chocolate brown
  8. Hydrogen sulphide – Bluish Green
  9. Aniline – Deep blue
  10. Opiates – Black
Medicolegal Importance of Postmortem Lividity
  • It is a reliable sign of death
  • It gives the information about the position of the body at the time of death
  • Time since death can be estimated
  • Colour suggest the cause of death
  • Distribution of lividity may give the information about the manner of death
Changes in Muscle
  • Primary relaxation/ Flaccidity
  • Rigor mortis/Cadaveric rigidity
  • Secondary relaxation

Starts immediately after death with generalised relaxation of muscle tone:

  • Drop of lower Jaw
  • Eye balls lose their tension
  • Pupils are dilated
  • Joints are flabby
  • Smooth relaxation- incontinence of Urine and Faeces.
Exam Question
 
Early changes
  1. Changes in the eye
  2. Changes in the skin
  3. Cooling of the body/Algor mortis
  4. Post-mortem lividity/Hypostasis
  5. Rigor mortis/Cadaveric rigidity
Changes In Eye
  • Brownish discolouration of the sclera due to cellular debris and dust-Tache noire

Changes in Skin

  • Wounds caused during life will retain their characteristic features
Cooling Of Body/Algor Mortis
  • Imbalance between heat production and heat loss.
  • Tetanus and strychnine poisoning, due to increase in heat production in the muscle.
  • Acute bacterial or viral infection, lobar pneumonia, typhoid fever, encephalitis, etc.

Postmortem Lividity

  • Post mortem staining/Hypostasis/Suggilation/ Vibices/ Livour mortis.-  1- 3 hr. Starts
  • Purple coloration of dependent parts, except in areas of contact pressure, appearing within 30 minutes to 2 hours after death, as a result of gravitational movement of deoxygenated blood within the vessels. 
  • If the body is lying in moving water, due to constant movement of the body postmortem lividity may not develop.

Colour of post mortem lividity (hypostasis)

  1. Normal – Bluish pink which later turns into bluish purple
  2. Hypothermic- Bright Pink
  3. Carbon monoxide – Bright cherry red
  4. Cyanide – Pink
  5. Phosphorous – Dark brown
  6. Nitrates – Reddish brown
  7. Chlorates – Chocolate brown
  8. Hydrogen sulphide – Bluish Green
  9. Aniline – Deep blue
  10. Opiates – Black
Medicolegal Importance of Postmortem Lividity
  • It gives the information about the position of the body at the time of death
  • Time since death can be estimated
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