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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

POST-MORTEM STAINING

125

Condition of the Body.—Fat and well nourished bodies retain heat much
longer than lean and weak bodies.

Manner of Death.—Cooling of the body is more rapid in deaths occurring
from severe haemorrhage or chronic and wasting diseases than in deaths
occurring suddenly from accident, acute disease or apoplexy ; whereas the
"body keeps warm for a long time when death has resulted from asphyxia as
in hanging, lightning, suffocation or poisoning by carbon dioxide.

Surroundings of the Body.—A dead body cools more slowly when kept
in a small room with still air than -when kept in a large room with access
of cold draughts of air from outside. Similarly a body covered with clothes
and lying in bed, or in a cesspool or dung-heap, cools less rapidly than a
naked body lying on a stone flag in the open air j while a body immersed in
water, especially in running water, cools more rapidly than when exposed
to the air. Cooling is delayed when the temperature of the atmospheric air
or water is high.

Post-mortem Caloricity.—This term is applied to a rise of temperature
observed for the first two hours or so in bodies after deaths from cholera,
small-pox, yellow fever, rheumatism, cerebro-spinal meningitis, liver abscess,
peritonitis, nephritis, injuries to the nervous system, tetanus and poisoning
by alcohol and strychnine. This post-mortem rise of temperature is due to
the action of micro-organisms in the still living fluids and tissues of the body,
and to the chemical changes going on after death.

5.   CADAVERIC  LIVIDITY, HYPOSTASIS,  SUGGILATION  OR POST-
MORTEM STAINING

This is a discoloration of the skin due to the accumulation of the fluid
blood into the capillaries and small veins of the rete mucosum in the most
dependent parts of the body according to its position, as the body after death,
like all other inert matter, obeys ^the law of gravitation. HLthe body is lying
on the back, the staining will be seen on the posterior parts of the head,
ears, neck, trunk and extremities, except on those parts which actually come
into contact with the surface on which the body is lying, as pressure caused
by the weight of the body prevents the underlying vessels from filling with
blood. Similarly, it is not seen on those parts which have been compressed
by tight clothing or tight wrapping of a sheet, but occurs as stripes or bands
called vibices, which often resemble the marks produced by flogging. Again,
a white band on the neck produced by a tight collar or necklace may look
like a mark of strangulation.

Fig. 29.—Post-mortem Staining.

In Northern India, post-mortem staining begins to form within an hour
after death, and is well-marked in four to twelve hours. It is formed after
every kind of death, but it is more marked in the bodies of fair people than
in those of dark individuals. It consists of small irregular patches on the
skin having a coppery red or purple colour. At first they are single, and
scattered on the surface, but later increase in size and unite together form-
ing a large uniform area of discoloration. These patches will disappear and
new ones will form on the dependent parts on altering the position of the