Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 106–115 | Cite as


  • Elisabeth E. TurkEmail author


Hypothermia refers to a situation where there is a drop in body core temperature below 35°C. It is a potentially fatal condition. In forensic medicine and pathology, cases of hypothermia often pose a special challenge to experts because of their complex nature, and the often absent or nonspecific nature of morphological findings. The scene of the incident may raise suspicions of a crime initially, due to phenomena such as terminal burrowing behavior and paradoxical undressing. An element of hypothermia often contributes to the cause of death in drug- and alcohol-related fatalities, in the homeless, in immersion deaths, in accidents and in cases of abuse or neglect, making the condition extremely relevant to forensic medical specialists. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the pathophysiological aspects of hypothermia and to illustrate different aspects relevant to forensic medical casework.


Hypothermia Autopsy Forensic pathology Clinical forensic medicine Scene investigation Environment Immersion Frostbite 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für RechtsmedizinUniversität des SaarlandesHomburg/SaarGermany

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