International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 127, Issue 5, pp 971–974 | Cite as

A case of instantaneous rigor?

  • J. Pirch
  • Y. Schulz
  • M. Klintschar
Case Report


The question of whether instantaneous rigor mortis (IR), the hypothetic sudden occurrence of stiffening of the muscles upon death, actually exists has been controversially debated over the last 150 years. While modern German forensic literature rejects this concept, the contemporary British literature is more willing to embrace it. We present the case of a young woman who suffered from diabetes and who was found dead in an upright standing position with back and shoulders leaned against a punchbag and a cupboard. Rigor mortis was fully established, livor mortis was strong and according to the position the body was found in. After autopsy and toxicological analysis, it was stated that death most probably occurred due to a ketoacidotic coma with markedly increased values of glucose and lactate in the cerebrospinal fluid as well as acetone in blood and urine. Whereas the position of the body is most unusual, a detailed analysis revealed that it is a stable position even without rigor mortis. Therefore, this case does not further support the controversial concept of IR.


Rigor mortis Instantaneous rigor Hyperglycaemic coma Cadaveric spasm 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineMedical University HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Clinic for Forensic Psychiatry and PsychotherapyKarl Jaspers ClinicBad ZwischenahnGermany

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