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Post-mortem interval

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Title: Post-mortem interval  
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Subject: Decomposition, Post-mortem (disambiguation), ADH, Forensics, PMI
Collection: Death, Forensics, Medical Aspects of Death, Pathology
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Post-mortem interval

Stages of death

Pallor mortis
Algor mortis
Rigor mortis
Livor mortis

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 1
  • Traditional decomposition stages 2
  • More advanced methods 3
  • References 4

Types of change after death

Many types of changes to a body occur after death. Some of those that can be used to determine the post mortem interval are:[1][2]

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.[1]:17
  • Stage 2: Putrefaction - Bacteria grow throughout the body, releasing gases, 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.[1]:17

More advanced methods

More advanced methods include DNA quantification,[4]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Survey of Biological Factors Affecting the Determination of the Postmortem Interval. Bautista, Richard. Spring 2012.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ Muñoz, JI; Suárez-Peñaranda, JM; Otero, XL; Rodríguez-Calvo, MS; Costas, E; Miguéns, X; Concheiro, L (2001). "A new perspective in the estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) based on vitreous". Journal of Forensic Sciences 46 (2): 209–14.  
  4. ^ Lin, X; Yin, YS; Ji, Q (2011). "Progress on DNA quantification in estimation of postmortem interval". Fa yi xue za zhi 27 (1): 47–9, 53.  
  5. ^ Huang, P; Tuo, Y; Wang, ZY (2010). "Review on estimation of postmortem interval using FTIR spectroscopy". Fa yi xue za zhi 26 (3): 198–201.  
  6. ^ Davla, M; Moore, TR; Kalacska, M; LeBlanc, G; Costopoulos, A (2015). "Nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide dynamics from experimental pig graves". Forensic Science International 247: 41–47.  
  7. ^ Senos Matias, MJ (2004). "An investigation into the use of geophysical methods in the study of aquifer contamination by graveyards". Near Surface Geophysics 2 (3): 131–136.  
  8. ^ Van Belle, LE; Carter, DO; Forbes, SL (2009). "Measurement of ninhydrin reactive nitrogen influx into gravesoil during aboveground and below ground carcass (Sus domesticus) decomposition". Forensic Science International 193: 37–41.  
  9. ^ Vass, A (2012). "Odor mortis". Forensic Science International 222: 234–241.  
  10. ^ Pringle, JK; Cassella, JP; Jervis, JR; Williams, A; Cross, P; Cassidy, NJ (2015). "Soilwater Conductivity Analysis to Date and Locate Clandestine Graves of Homicide Victims". Journal of forensic sciences 60 (4): 1052–1061.  


[10] and water conductivity.[9]

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