Estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) is one of the major tasks and a continuous challenge in forensic pathology. It is often an exclusion process of available methods, which ultimately can lead to an unsatisfactory outcome due to poor reliability. This problem is most acute in the late PMI, when decomposition proceeds and some methods (such as rigor, livor, and algor mortis) are no longer applicable. Several methods, such as forensic entomology, skeletal muscle protein degradation, and the study of body decomposition by application of a morphological scoring, are expected to provide further information; however, all have certain limitations and weaknesses. Availability of a tool-box of methods allows a case-specific selection of the most appropriate one(s), or eventually provides improvements in the overall accuracy and precision of the PMI estimation by merging and combining methods. To investigate practical (field) application, eventual interferences, and/or synergetic effects, as well as the robustness of these methods towards specific influencing factors, a field study was conducted, using eight pig cadavers of different body weights and physical coverage, left to decompose under natural conditions for 16 days. Morphological changes during decomposition were assessed using the total body score (TBS), muscle samples were collected to analyze protein degradation, and insect colonization was evaluated. The results reveal strengths and current limitations of all tested methods, as well as promising synergistic effects, and thus, provide a baseline for targeted future research.

A field study to evaluate PMI estimation methods for advanced decomposition stages

Campobasso, Carlo P;
2020

Abstract

Estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) is one of the major tasks and a continuous challenge in forensic pathology. It is often an exclusion process of available methods, which ultimately can lead to an unsatisfactory outcome due to poor reliability. This problem is most acute in the late PMI, when decomposition proceeds and some methods (such as rigor, livor, and algor mortis) are no longer applicable. Several methods, such as forensic entomology, skeletal muscle protein degradation, and the study of body decomposition by application of a morphological scoring, are expected to provide further information; however, all have certain limitations and weaknesses. Availability of a tool-box of methods allows a case-specific selection of the most appropriate one(s), or eventually provides improvements in the overall accuracy and precision of the PMI estimation by merging and combining methods. To investigate practical (field) application, eventual interferences, and/or synergetic effects, as well as the robustness of these methods towards specific influencing factors, a field study was conducted, using eight pig cadavers of different body weights and physical coverage, left to decompose under natural conditions for 16 days. Morphological changes during decomposition were assessed using the total body score (TBS), muscle samples were collected to analyze protein degradation, and insect colonization was evaluated. The results reveal strengths and current limitations of all tested methods, as well as promising synergistic effects, and thus, provide a baseline for targeted future research.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11591/427292
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