Go Late changes in the corpse | Forensic medical thanatology and examination of a corpse
Pages: 1 2

Late changes in the corpse

  • Mummification
  • Zhirovosk
  • Peat "tanning"
  • Destruction of a corpse by animals
  • Late changes in a corpse develop more slowly than early ones, and are externally manifested later. Under normal conditions, the corpse is exposed to external factors, the main of which are oxygen, humidity, and ambient temperature. The change in the parameters of even one of these factors is sharply reflected in the biochemical processes of decomposition occurring in the corpse. Certain types of late cadaveric changes complete their formation after months and even years. Depending on the environmental conditions, the corpse can be destroyed or preserved.

    Late transformative, or destructive, changes in the corpse include the processes of decay, which ultimately lead to the complete disappearance of organic substances. Rotting is a complex microbiological process consisting in the decomposition of organic substances, primarily proteins, in organs and tissues under the influence of various microorganisms. Under favorable conditions (sufficient humidity, access of oxygen in the air, positive ambient temperature), microorganisms begin to multiply vigorously, releasing a large number of proteolytic enzymes that break down organic compounds.


    As a rule, both aerobes and anaerobes take part in the process of decay. Most intensively this process develops under the action of microorganisms belonging to the group of aerobes. Under the influence of anaerobes, decay proceeds more slowly, with the release of substances with an extremely unpleasant odor. In the actions of microorganisms, there is a more or less pronounced pattern. Some decompose protein to peptones, albumosis and amino acids, others to the final degradation products; these include valeric acid , acetic acid , oxalic acid , cresol, phenol, methane, ammonia, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide , etc. Among these gases are hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan and ethyl mercaptan, they have a specific smell for rotting. Pathogenic microorganisms under putrid decomposition of the tissues of a corpse under the influence of a "banal" flora are subject to the general laws of decomposition and therefore infection with infectious diseases practically does not occur upon contact with a corpse.

    The intensity of the process of decay depends on many reasons. The most optimal conditions for rotting a corpse occur at an ambient temperature of 30, 40 ° C. The rot develops rapidly in the air, slower in the water and even slower in the soil. The corpses that are in the coffins, especially when they are sealed, rot even more slowly. At temperatures of 0–1 and 50, 60 ° C, the process of decay slows sharply, and with dry air it can stop altogether and the corpse gradually turns into a state of natural mummification. If the death occurred from sepsis or in the presence of other purulent processes, decay is significantly accelerated. With prolonged atonal states, the barrier functions of the large intestine are disturbed, which favors the spread of intestinal flora even in the period of dying, this circumstance contributes to the simultaneous development of decay in all organs.


    The putrefactive processes in the corpse begin to manifest themselves soon after death. Rotting usually begins in the large intestine and is expressed in the formation of putrid gases. Anatomically blind and sigmoid colon directly adjacent to the anterior wall of the abdomen. Hydrogen sulfide contained in putrefactive gases penetrates the intestinal wall, combines with the hemoglobin iron of the blood vessels of the abdominal wall and, forming sulfhemoglobin, stains the anterior abdominal wall in the iliac areas green. The first signs of decay in normal room conditions (16, 18 ° C) appear on the 2-3rd day in the form of greenish spots in the right, and then in the left iliac areas (greens). Then, on the 3rd-4th day, due to the increasing pressure of putrid gases in the abdominal cavity, microorganisms spread through the venous vessels, causing blood to rot, which forms a putrid venous network of dirty green color, which is clearly visible upon external examination of the corpse.

    Putrid gases accumulate in the subcutaneous fatty tissue and stretch the skin, forming cadaveric emphysema . Face, lips, mammary glands, stomach, scrotum, limbs are especially bloated. Due to the formation of cadaveric emphysema, the body of a corpse acquires an unusually large size.

    Gases, accumulated in the fiber of the neck and pharyngeal ring, push the tongue out of the mouth, and it protrudes because of the teeth. The pressure of gases in the abdominal cavity can reach two atmospheres. Under the influence of gases, the contents of the stomach can move through the esophagus into the oral cavity - a so-called post-mortem " vomiting " occurs. By this time, all the skin of the corpse becomes a dirty green color. The epidermis in some areas exfoliates, forming bubbles with sero-bloody contents. When bubbles burst, a moist, brownish-red surface of the dermis is exposed.