Shortly after death, post-mortem changes develop in the corpse. Visible to the naked eye, they include a lack of breathing and heartbeat , clouding and drying of the corneas, cooling and rigor mortis, death spots and decomposition.
Cooling occurs due to the cessation of heat generation and continues until the body temperature becomes equal to the ambient temperature. Brushes and feet become cold in 1-2 hours, stomach in 10-12 hours. The clouding and drying of the corneas is associated with the evaporation of moisture from the surface of the body.
Rigor mortis occurs 2–5 hours after death and is expressed in contraction and compaction of the muscles - first the masticatory, then the muscles of the upper limbs, torso and lower extremities. The nature of this phenomenon is not fully elucidated: apparently, numbness is associated with the splitting of glycogen in muscles, the formation of lactic acid and the subsequent swelling of colloids of myofibrils.
After 3-5 days, rigor mortis is “allowed”, i.e. it disappears in the same order as it appeared. The reason for the “resolution” is also not clear: it is assumed that it is associated with excessive accumulation of lactic acid.
Cadaverous spots can be early (hypostasis) and late (imbibition); they result from the contraction of the arteries when blood passes into the veins and drains due to gravity to the lower parts of the body. The location of the cadaveric spots depends on the position in which the person was at the time of death. Hypostasis (see) arise in 3-6 hours. after death, have a dark purple color and turn white when pressed on them (unlike bruises). When a skin incision is made in the area of hypostasis, blood is seeping from overflowing veins. Hypostases can move when the position of a corpse changes. Imbibition (see) develops after about 7 hours, when the hemoglobin of the erythrocytes enters the plasma (hemolysis), with which it penetrates through the vascular wall into the surrounding tissues, giving them a dirty-brown color.Go
Cadaveric decomposition is the breakdown of tissues as a result of the enzymatic action of microbes; begins with self-digestion (autolysis) associated with the action of their own enzymes on the tissue. Under the influence of the putrefactive bacteria of the intestine rotting occurs. Signs of decomposition - putrid odor, dirty greenish color of the skin of the abdomen and other departments. With a pronounced decomposition of the corpse, soft tissues melt, turn into a dirty gray fetid mass, often permeated by gas bubbles (so-called cadaveric emphysema ), giving a foamy appearance to the tissues. in a warm and humid environment, in a dry environment, drying may occur - the so-called mummification (see). The decomposition of the corpse is accelerated after death from septic diseases. On average, the complete breakdown of tissues takes about two years. An autopsy is usually performed no earlier than 2 hours after the death, but due to the expansion of research and the study of transplantation processes, the Ministry of Health currently does not regulate the order, so an autopsy can be performed at any time after stating biological death. For scientific and pedagogical purposes, this period is allowed to shorten, provided that the death was ascertained by two doctors with the obligatory carrying out of verification tests, which make it possible to establish with certainty the actual death.
In medical institutions, work is carried out with corpses with a teaching and pedagogical purpose; organs and parts of a corpse are used as visual aids (in anatomy).
Preservation of the corpse and the prevention of decay contribute to the various methods of embalming the corpse (see). Embalming is especially necessary when transporting corpses over long distances, for preparing textbooks and for medico-legal purposes. Storage of corpses in the hospital - in a cold room, at a temperature below zero.
The burial of corpses is allowed not earlier than 48 hours after death and not later than 72 hours. (see Burial of the dead).
See also Autopsy.