136 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
Their mucous membrane appears first uniformly brownish-red without any
vascular injection, and later becomes greenish and softened. Lastly, the
cartilages separate from one another, but this change takes place after some
The Brain of Infants.—Owing to the thinness of the skull bones and the
presence of the fontanelles the brain of infants very rapidly becomes soft
and pulpy, and soon turns into a greyish fluid so that it flows out on remov-
ing the cranial bones.
The Stomach.—Owing to the presence of the fermenting food, digestive
ferments and bacteria, and a large amount of blood supply, the stomach,
as a rule, putrefies much sooner after death. It putrefies usually from
twenty-four to thirty-six hours in summer and from three to six days in
winter, but it may sometimes begin to putrefy much earlier. As a conse-
quence of putrefaction dark-red, irregular patches are first seen on the
posterior wall, and then appear on the anterior wall. These patches may
be mistaken for the effects of irritant poisoning, but can be readily distin-
guished as putrefactive changes involve the whole thickness of the stomach
wall, while the effects of irritant poisoning are observed usually in the
mucous membrane only. Afterwards blebs form on the inner surface of
the walls, which become softened, dark brown and ultimately change into a
dark, pultaceous mass.
The Intestines.—The putrefaction of these organs follows that of the
stomach. The intestines are rapidly inflated with the formation of gases
in the interior, and the mucous membrane undergoes exactly the same
changes as are observed in the stomach. Owing to the walls being softened
the intestines burst and discharge their contents.
The Spleen.—In some cases the spleen decomposes earlier than the
stomach and intestines, especially if it is swollen and hyperaemic from an
acute infectious disease, or enlarged from chronic malaria, but it may resist
putrefaction longer, if it happens to be firm and comparatively bloodless.
Owing to putrefaction the spleen becomes soft, pulpy, greenish-steel in colour,
and within two to three days in summer it may be reduced to a diffluent
The Omentum and Mesentery.—These withstand putrefaction for a long
time, if they are free from fat, but decompose sooner, if loaded with fat.
In that case they appear greyish-green and dry.
The Liver.—Owing to the effects of decomposition the liver usually
becomes softened and flabby in consistence during summer from twelve to
eighteen or twenty-four hours after death, and owing to the evolution of
gas in its substance it becomes studded with blisters from twenty-four to
thirty-six hours. Later, the usual greenish discoloration appears on the
upper convex surface, and gradually extends to the whole organ, which
ultimately becomes coal-black. The liver putrefies earlier in new-born
children than in adults. The gall-bladder is recognizable for a long period
owing to its resisting action against putrefaction, but bile pigments may
diffuse early through the adjacent tissues.
The Adult Brain.—The putrefaction of the adult brain first begins at its
base, and then proceeds to the upper surface. It is hastened if any injury
to the brain or skull is present. The brain becomes soft and pulpy within
twenty-four to forty-eight hours in summer, and becomes a liquid mass
from three to four days.
The Heart.—The heart putrefies much later than the stomach, intestines
and liver. The organs first become soft and flabby, and the cavity appears