Medical Examination

28 03 2010

Q

A teenager was found dead one day. The parents have no idea why their child is dead. They want to find out the cause of death and the manner of death. What should they do?

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A

They should request medical examination. External and internal autopsies will be done to figure out the cause and the manner of death.

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Medical Examination is the first thing done when the corpse arrives in the laboratory. The first thing the medical examiner does is an external autopsy; they look for clues on the outside of the body. This is done, because in most cases, what can be found on the outside can be more helpful than what can be found on the inside. Then, internal autopsy is done. The examiner looks at the internal organs to find out if he/she had a disease or damage. Many years of training in medical school must be done to become a forensic pathologist, as I said on a post that I wrote before.

First, before you start any autopsy process, you need to put on protective materials, such as gloves, eye protection, surgical clothes, etc.

Autopsy is a very complicated process, that requires a good stomach. You will be able to find a good amount of disgusting pictures if you type “forensic autopsy” on google! The autopsy always begins with a Y-incision. Next, you will remove the rib cage and expose the inner organs. You will use the rib cutter to do so. Then, you will extract some blood to use as samples for the toxicology lab.  You will poke the syringe through the heart for extraction. You will then use a technique called Rokitansky’s technique. All organs will be removed together and further dissected outside the body. Scalpel will be used to carry out this process. Then, you will need to observe the brain for signs of trauma. You will first have to expose the skull. Stryker saw will be used. Now, all necessary organs are removed. They can be now studied individually in more detail. You will weigh all organs and cut them open. Observing the organs will lead you to figure out what the cause of death is. After you figure out the cause of death, you will also have to figure out the manner of death. Manner of death is what describes how the cause of death occurred.

There are five choices

  1. Natural
  2. Homicide
  3. Suicide
  4. Accidental
  5. Undetermined

1. Natural

Natural death is sudden or unexpected death cause by disease, usually by heart disease, brain system disorder, and nervous system disorders. It can occur at any age. It is seen in 38% of cases

2. Homicide

It is death caused by another person, intentionally or accidentally. If it was accidental, it is not considered a murder. It is determined by the court. It is seen in 9% of cases.

3. Suicide

Suicide is self-caused death. Usually, suicide committers have psychological problems. It is seen in 9% of cases.

4. Accidental

Accidental death is the most common manner of death. It is used if death was unintentional or unavoidable. It is seen in 40% of cases.

5. Undetermined

Undetermined deaths are deaths that do not have certain circumstances surrounding. This is usually temporary classification until the investigation is complete. It is see in 4% of cases as their final decision.

Even before medical examination, the body can tell us many things about when someone died.

  1. Algor Mortis
  2. Rigor Mortis
  3. Livor Mortis

1. Algor Mortis

Algor mortis is the body temperature. After death, the body cools down at a certain rate until it reaches the surrounding temperature. We insert the thermometer into the liver to accurately measure the internal body temperature.

2. Rigor Mortis

Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the muscles. As time passes, the body will become stiff. Later, It will become so stiff that it won’t be able to be moved

3. Livor Mortis

Livor mortis is the discoloration of the body. Lower areas will turn dark blue or purple, because that is where the blood settles.








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