Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 200–201 | Cite as

Putrefactive “rigor mortis”

  • Michael TsokosEmail author
  • Roger W. Byard
Images in Forensics

Case report

During the massive disaster victim identification (DVI) operation that was undertaken after the December 2004 South East Asian tsunami, thousands of bodies were retrieved and identified by multinational DVI groups operating in many countries throughout the region [ 1, 2]. A number of major difficulties were encountered, not the least of which involved body storage and preservation. After only a short time in the heat and humidity of the tropics, bodies began to show signs of rapidly advancing decomposition due to a combination of autolysis and putrefaction [ 2]. This complicated handling of the bodies and also severely impeded identification. In addition to the usual changes of putrefactive purging of fluids from body orifices, venous marbling, blistering and discoloration of the skin, and swelling of body cavities [ 3, 4], a prominent feature in many cases was extension and lifting of the limbs due to so-called putrefactive rigor mortis [ 5]. This can be clearly seen in a...


Adenosine Triphosphate Body Cavity High Ambient Temperature Myosin Filament Postmortem Change 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic SciencesCharité—Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Discipline of Anatomy and PathologyThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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