A Detailed Note on Rigor Mortis

Rigor Mortis is the state of muscles of a dead body that become stiff with some degree of shortening that follows the period of primary flaccidity. In general, rigor mortis is the stiffening of the muscles after death. Along with stiffening, shortening of the muscles is also observed. The term is derived from ‘rigor‘ which means ‘rigidity‘and ‘Mortis‘ meaning of ‘death’. It is also known as Cadaveric rigidity.  Rigor mortis is the third stage of death and is a sure sign of death. When it is completely developed, the body and the joints become extremely stiff with the flexion attitude of upper limb muscles. It indicates the death of individual cells that is molecular death. In children, rigor mortis may fix a dilated anal orifice and this finding may persist after it has faded. The position of the body in which the rigor mortis is established indicates the position of […]

A Detailed Note on Adipocere Formation

Adipocere formation is the modified form of decomposition which is characterized by the formation of soft, waxy material in the dead body. It is also known as saponification or grave wax. The term adipocere was given by Fourcroy in the year 1789. The term “adipocere” is derived from ‘adipo’ which means ‘fat‘ and ‘cire’ meaning ‘wax‘. This indicates the properties of adipocere intermediate between fat and wax. Adipocere is a grey-white color and is waxy which later develops into a more crumbly to solid consistency thus leading to the solidification of various affected body parts. Moist or aquatic environment, warm temperature, bacterial enzyme action especially of clostridium perfringens, adipose tissue are the major requirements for the formation of adipocere. Oxygen in general inhibits adipocere formation. It can be formed in embalmed and unembalmed bodies also. Mummification and skeletonization may both occur with the adipocere formation. But most of the time […]

Types and Signs of Asphyxia

According to Adelson, asphyxia is a state in a living organism in which there is an acute lack of oxygen available for cell metabolism associated with the inability of the body to eliminate the excess of carbon dioxide. The supply of oxygen to the blood and body tissues is reduced below the normal working level due to interference in the process of respiration. The three main stages of asphyxia are Stage of Dyspnea, Stage of Convulsion, Stage of Exhaustion, and respiratory failure. Asphyxia is considered a state in which hypoxia and hypercapnia happen. Hypoxia of the tissue means the lack of supply of oxygen to the body and hypercapnia means the increased level of carbon dioxide retention in the blood and tissues. The other two terms usually used along with asphyxia are anoxia which means lack of oxygen supply to the body and tissues and hypoxia which is a condition […]

Autopsy Findings in Death Due to Strangulation

A strangulation is a form of violent asphyxial death that is caused by the constriction of the neck utilizing ligature or any other means without suspending the body. It is different from hanging and can be distinguished by observing various features. In strangulation, there is an application of external force due to the compression caused in the neck by hand or a rope, belt, stick, etc.   The cause of death in the case of strangulation might be asphyxia, cerebral hypoxia, cerebral congestion, vagal inhibition, fracture-dislocation of cervical vertebrae, or asphyxia and venous congestion combined. There are different types of strangulation. Based on means used to constrict the neck, strangulation deaths are classified into- Ligature strangulation, Mugging, Bansdola, Garroting, Palmar strangulation, Manual strangulation/Throttling. Based on the manner of death it is classified into Homicidal and Accidental strangulation.  Ligature Strangulation– It is the violent form of death caused by constricting the neck […]

Medical Examination of Rape Victim

Rape is a sexual offense that involves sexual intercourse, or other forms of penetration carried out against the person without their consent. According to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013, Section 375 of IPC, a man is said to rape if he, penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra, or anus of a woman or insert any object or other part of the body apart from the penis, into her private body parts, manipulate any part of the body, applies mouth or make her do any of the above mentioned with him or any other person.  There are different types of rape like statutory rape, marital rape, custodial rape, gang rape, date rape, stranger rape. Each of them is defined under various sections and subsections of IPC. Section 376 subsection 1, subsection 2, section 376 A, 376 B, 376 C, 376 D, 376 E deals with […]

Autopsy Findings of Starvation

Starvation is the result of deprivation of the regular and constant supply of food, a source of energy, that is required for our health and life. Terms like malnutrition, Cachexia, and emaciation are often used along with starvation. A person can survive up to 10-12 days without water and food and if food alone is withdrawn, then death may occur in 6-8 weeks or sometimes even more. There are mainly two types of starvation- Acute and Chronic. In Acute starvation water and food supply are withheld completely and suddenly. In chronic starvation, there is a gradual deficiency in the supply of food. Factors like age, sex, exposure to cold, condition of body affects death due to starvation. An adult’s food requirement is a minimum of about 2000 calories (if not performing any activity). When 40% of the original body weight is lost, life is at risk. Starvation will result in […]

History, Process and Medicolegal Aspects of Embalming

Embalming is the procedure or the treatment done on a dead body using antiseptics and preservatives to prevent putrefaction thus preserving the body. This process will result in the coagulation of proteins, fixation of tissues, organs get bleached and hardened and blood is converted into a brownish mass. It will cause a chemical stiffening similar to rigor mortis but the actual rigor mortis will not develop. This developed rigidity is permanent and the decomposition can be inhibited for several months. Embalming is done in medical schools to preserve dead bodies for education and dissection, or when the body has to be taken from one place to another like across countries, states for last rituals when transit time required would be more so that decomposition does not occur. It is done by injecting the embalming fluid into the body. It alters the appearance of the body, tissue, and organs, making it […]

Postmortem Evidence of Criminal Abortion

Criminal abortion is the unlawful expulsion of the fetus at any stage of gestation by a qualified or unqualified doctor. It does not come under the rules of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 and hence is punishable under the law. The motives behind criminal abortion might be female feticide, avoiding the addition of a member to the family especially in cases of poor families, when the child is the product of illicit sexual intercourse. There are several ways to induce criminal abortion. One method is by using abortifacient drugs like Ecbolics, emmenagogues, irritant poisons, systemic poisons, abortion pills, abortion sticks. The other method is by general or local violence. As these procedures might be performed by a skilled or unskilled person and are not done most appropriately, it can have complications or even result in the death of an individual. The immediate complications include hemorrhage, fat embolism, […]

Clinical Features of Coma, Syncope and Asphyxia

Mode of death refers to the abnormal physiological state that pertained at the time of death. It generally refers to the system that stopped its function which initiated the process of death. As per Gordon, there are 4 modes of death:- Anoxic anoxia, Anemic anoxia, Stagnant anoxia, Histotic anoxia. But Xavier Bichat who was a French physician stated three modes of death depending on whether death begins in one or the other three systems, irrespective of what the remote cause of death may be. Those three modes of death are Coma, Syncope and Asphyxia. COMA:-  Death due to failure of brain function/nervous system. SYNCOPE:- Death due to failure of heat function/circulatory system. ASPHYXIA:- Death due to failure of lung function/respiratory system. Here, in this article we will discuss the clinical features of these different modes of death. Clinical Features of Coma It is a state of prolonged unconsciousness. In other […]

Definition and Types of Inquest

An inquest is an inquiry or investigation into the cause of death where death is apparently not due to natural causes. It is done in order to identify the deceased person, place of death, time of death and cause of death. This method of inquiry was first developed in Scandinavia and the Carolingian empire before the end of the 10th century. An inquest helps in safeguarding the legal rights of the victim’s family by knowing full and accurate facts about their loved one’s death. Inquest is a fact- finding process. It is usually held if the cause of death is not clearly certified by the post-mortem examination report and a formal request is . It is done in cases of sudden death, suicide, homicide, infanticide, death due to accident, poisoning, drug mishap, unexplained death, death under anesthesia or an operation table or from postoperative shock, death due to medical negligence, […]

Rules for Preservation of Medical Evidence

Any substance that is collected using scientific methods from a scene of crime such as blood, semen, or any trace material like hair, soil and so on which after analysis using scientific method, can be produced in the court of law to establish a person’s guilt or prove him innocent is known as evidence. Medical evidence helps in the investigation of both civil and criminal cases. It forms the link between crime and criminal. There are different types of evidence like biological, physical, digital and proper collection. Preservation and packaging are the key factors as improper collection, packaging, and preservation can lead to sample loss, cross-contamination, decomposition, or sample degradation. In case of the death of a person, medical evidence is the most important evidence and is inevitable. The medical evidence is examined using a post-mortem report. Proper preservation of medical evidence can help in DNA extraction and DNA profiling. […]

Postmortem Examination in Poisoning Cases

Diagnosis of poisoning is based on history, signs, tissue changes, and laboratory examinations. Giving your doctor a complete history is essential to help him/her make an accurate diagnosis. Diagnosis of poisoning of the dead is done based on: Clinical history  PM appearance  Laboratory analysis  Postmortem examination can further be done based on:  Experiment on animals with the extracted poison from the body.  Moral and circumstantial evidence  Postmortem Examination in Case of Poisoning In case of Hospital stay and treatment If the dead were admitted to the hospital, then the first sample of gastric lavage should be collected. Similarly, if available, blood and urine samples should be collected and then sent to the Forensic Science lab. Maintain the record of drugs, medications which the victim had used. Vomitus stains on clothes, feces stains, poison stains, and vomit should be collected and sent for toxicological analysis. In physical assault and road accidents, […]

Euthanasia and its Types | Should Euthanasia be Legalized?

Euthanasia is a term derived from the Greek word “eu” meaning “good” and “thanatos” meaning “death“. It is a process to end someone’s life voluntarily to end the suffering of that particular person. It is also termed as ‘Mercy Killing‘. The person either going through unbearable pain, incapacitating physical disorder, or incurable disease that requires mercy killing. Euthanasia is usually performed by the doctors at the request of the patient by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life support or injecting the patient with a drug for a painless death. It is a very complex process that requires the authenticity of doctors, patients, and family members also keeping in mind the local laws. The doctor In this article, we will discuss the types of Euthanasia and laws related to this term in India as well as other countries. Types of Euthanasia The term “Euthanasia” is classified into five different categories:- Voluntary […]

Abortion law in India & Amendments | Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

Abortion is a term used to define the death of an unborn child in the womb voluntarily by the mother within 24 weeks of pregnancy using medicine or surgical procedure. Often sometimes we mistake it with the term “miscarriage”. However, both these terms are different. Miscarriage is a naturally occurring event where a child dies inside the womb due to the non-development of the fetus. Miscarriage is also known as Spontaneous Abortion. In this modern era, it has become legal in many countries. In the 1960s only 15 countries had legalized them while India made it legal in 1971. Abortion is still criminalized in India to some extent, and to control such activities, a law was formed. Abortion law in INDIA Before 1971, it was criminalized under section 312 of the Indian Penal Code and described it as ‘intentionally causing miscarriage’ except in the cases where the life of the […]

Types and Procedure of Abortion in Terms of Safety

Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by removing the fetus from the woman’s body before it reaches the stage of viability (when a fetus becomes independent to live within 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy). The term Abortion has been up for debate in society for decades. The laws adopted for termination of pregnancy in India has also left some loopholes for women and has been criticized constantly by Feminists. Abortion is legal as well as criminalized in India, and all the clauses for its criminalization have been defined in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. The word “Abortion” has not been used in the MTP act rather it is used as medical termination of pregnancy to ensure that these laws in the country aren’t framed as granting women a choice or a right to undergo safe procedures, but as procedures to protect doctors against prosecution for conducting […]