|Stages of death|
Post-mortem interval (PMI) is the time that has elapsed since a person has died. If the time in question is not known, a number of medical/scientific techniques are used to determine it. This also can refer to the stage of decomposition of the body.
Types of change after death
- Algor mortis - body cooling;:16
- Livor mortis - settling of blood in the lowest-placed parts of the body;:15–16
- Rigor mortis - stiffening of limbs;:115
- Forensic entomology - insect (especially blowfly):2 activity on the corpse;:17
- Vitreous humour changes - eye chemistry;
- State of decomposition - autolysis (process of self digestion) and putrefaction (process caused by bacteria found within the body).:16
Traditional decomposition stages
A person who judges the time of death by the means of decomposition can refer to a simple five-stage process:
- Stage 1: Initial Decay - Bacteria located mainly in the lower intestine begin decomposition, giving a greenish color to the lower abdomen.:17
- Stage 2: Putrefaction - Bacteria grow throughout the body, releasing gases, including cadaverine, which in turn bloat the body and cause unpleasant odor.
- Stage 3: Black Putrefaction - This stage brings further discoloration to the body. The gases from bacterial decay begin to escape, causing strong odor.
- Stage 4: Butyric Fermentation - The internal organs liquefy and the body begins to dry out.
- Stage 5: Mummification - This is the slowest of the five stages. In a hot, dry climate the body may dehydrate, inhibiting bacterial decay; the skin dries to a dark leathery appearance.:17
More advanced methods
More advanced methods include DNA quantification, infrared spectroscopy. and for buried individuals changes in soils such as the levels of methane, phosphates and nitrates, ninhydrin-reactive nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and water conductivity.
- Survey of Biological Factors Affecting the Determination of the Postmortem Interval[permanent dead link]. Bautista, Richard. Spring 2012.
- Blood, guts, gore and soil: decomposition processes in graves and forensic taphonomic applications. Tibbett, Mark. 2010 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World.
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