Consistency of postmortem interval estimations of physicians using only postmortem changes of putrefied dead bodies

Aydn B., ÇOLAK B., Balc Y., Demirüstü C.

American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, vol.31, no.3, pp.243-246, 2010 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


The postmortem interval is estimated based on physical, biochemical, and morphologic changes in dead bodies, scene investigation findings, and judicial investigation findings. Many factors affect the onset and the course of the postmortem changes. There is no established method for accurate estimation of the postmortem interval, especially with regard to putrefied dead bodies. Aiming to determine the consistency and the variation of postmortem interval estimations in cases with various putrefaction degrees by forensic medicine assistants and specialists from different centers, a prospective study was undertaken. A form containing data about the time, environment, and geographical location where the cases were found, along with their postmortem changes was mailed to 110 forensic medicine assistants and specialists from different centers, who were also asked to note their postmortem interval estimations. About half of the forms were returned. Those postmortem interval estimations made based on the information included in the forms, showed great variability between the participants, and in only 6 cases a consistency exceeding 50% was found between the participants and the autopsy teams. It is not possible to estimate the postmortem interval in a standard way by using only the postmortem changes of putrefied bodies. Therefore, especially in the cases involving putrefied bodies, in addition to the postmortem changes, factors such as environmental conditions, the scene, and judicial investigation findings should be taken into consideration. Copyright © 2010 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.