Post Mortem Examination And PMI

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Literature Review

Post Mortem Examination and PMI

The purpose of post-mortem examination of human remains plays a crucial part within criminal investigation. The role of post-mortem examination is to establish three relevant facts which are causes of death, identification of the deceased and the time that death occurred (Jackson and Jackson, 2011). The reason why gathering the time of death, is so important, is that it can be used against statements or alibis that may be developed through the course of a criminal investigation (Adcock and Chancellor, 2013). If the post-mortem examination takes place within the first 72 hours, normally the pathologist will be able to give a relatively accurate time of death, basing this on the fall in body temperature and the condition of the body itself, however outside of this time zone; there is less medical information to correlate the post-mortem interval, referred to as PMI (Gennard, 2007). PMI is harder to correlate after this 72 time zone for one reason, and that is temperature, once death has occurred the human body temperature starts to drop from around 37°C to that of the surrounding environment which enables the pathologist to back track to come to the PMI (Jackson and Jackson, 2011), the problems with this method for correlating PMI come in two different ways. The first of these problems is factors which can affect the rate at which a corpse cools, such as the temperature, humidity, precipitation and exposure of the corpse to the environment (Jackson and Jackson, 2011) and the second being that after 42 hours, decomposition is normally established, which is expected to normally increase the temperature of the body slightly (Jackson and Jackson, 2011).
PMI, Entomology and the Five St...

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...e present at the corpse due to a direct relation to the stage of decomposition; this has to be taken into account when determining PMI. Payne et al (Gennard, 2007) conducted an experiment using pigs heads buried at depths of 50-100 cm and listed 48 arthropod species colonizing the corpse, with 20 of these being restricted to buried corpses. Between 6-8 weeks after burial, they recorded 80% decomposition based upon weight loss, this was compared to the same decomposition stage of an unburied pig, which was found to reach the same decomposition stage within 7 days. The effects this has on determining PMI can be seen in two ways, one through the different insect succession which can be used to identify a possible PMI, and the second in how burial can greatly reduce the time that it takes for a corpse to decompose, possibly making it harder to calculate an accurate PMI.

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