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Colour measurements of pallor mortis


Little interest has yet been focused on the development of postmortem paleness (pallor mortis). Using an opto-electronical colour measurement device, we examined pallor mortis in 126 bodies and compared these findings to the average skin colour of 72 living Caucasian volunteers. It was shown that (a) hairy skin influences the results and any hair must be removed by shaving before colour determination, (b) among the living, there is a skin colour difference between the sexes which disappears after death, (c) postmortem paleness is caused by lack of capillary circulation after death and (d) paleness develops so rapidly after death that it has no or little use in determining time of death.

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Received: 10 November 1998 / Received in revised form: 9 March 1999

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Schäfer, A. Colour measurements of pallor mortis. Int J Leg Med 113, 81–83 (2000).

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  • Key words Colour measurement
  • Skin colour, human
  • Pallor mortis
  • Time of death