Saturday, 16 June 2012

Livor mortis and rigor mortis

Two of the physical changes that happen following death are called livor mortis (or hypostasis) and the better known rigor mortis.  These are explanations for these features:
rigor mortis:

In his report Dr Hunt records the following information:

Rigor mortis
At approximately 17.30 hrs (1730) following the tapings and swabs I was able to examine the body more fully and I noted that rigor mortis was fully established in all muscle groups.

Then at the mortuary -

Post mortem changes
  • Rigor mortis was still firmly established in all muscle groups 
  • The primary pattern of hypostasis was entirely posterior with blanching over mid-back and buttocks
  • Hypostasis was still mobile and shifted anteriorly on turning the body.
  • It was noted that hypostasis was generally weakly developed.
The onset of rigor mortis doesn't appear to be necessarily a good guide as to time of death as it can be affected by various individual circumstances.  I find it very surprising that Dr Hunt makes his fuller examination of the body at Harrowdown Hill (from about 17.30 till 19.15).  With the body on the woodland floor he would surely have to be kneeling or squatting all the time.  Why wasn't this part of the examination carried out in the relative comfort of the mortuary?  Even more the case as rigor was fully developed making limb manipulation difficult.

Medical commentators have pointed out that the presence of hypostasis is another indicator of insufficient blood loss to account for a death from haemorrhage. 

No comments:

Post a Comment