Factors influencing the precision of estimating the postmortem interval using the triple-exponential formulae (TEF). Part II. A study of the effect of body temperature at the moment of death on the postmortem brain, liver and rectal cooling in 117 forensic cases

Forensic Sci Int. 2002 Feb 18;125(2-3):231-6. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(01)00652-1.


The temperatures of three body sites, namely, the brain, liver and the rectum as well as the temperature of the environment were continuously monitored, every 5-10 min, in 117 forensic cases commencing soon after death and in most cases, within 45 min postmortem. The body temperature at the moment of death was empirically determined by a computer-based extrapolation method. Thus, temperature data for the first 3h of each body site were fitted to single-exponential equations and the fitted curve was extrapolated backwards to obtain the intercept on the Y-axis (the temperature axis). The effect of body temperature at the moment of death on postmortem cooling rate is examined and factors influencing body temperature at death are discussed. Forensic fatalities associated with hyper and hypothermia are reviewed briefly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bedding and Linens
  • Body Temperature*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Computers
  • Death*
  • Forensic Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Postmortem Changes*
  • Rectum / pathology*
  • Time Factors