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The Potential Use of the Eye Temperature Decrease in Determining the Time of Death in the Early Postmortem Period: Studies in Pigs

Kaliszan, Michał MD, PhD*†; Hauser, Roman MD, PhD, DSc; Buczyński, Janusz PhD, DSc; Jankowski, Zbigniew MD, PhD, DSc; Raczyńska, Krystyna MD, PhD, DSc§; Kernbach-Wighton, Gerhard MD, PhD, SEM, SFM, Habil*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 162-164
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181d8e2e7
Original Article

The experiment was performed in pigs during which the postmortem body temperature was continuously measured. The study was focused on a period of time starting 0.5 hours after the animals' termination and consisted in computer recording of the cooling process of the eyeball (vitreous humor), orbit soft tissues, muscles, and the rectum.

The experiment revealed the absence of a plateau phase of temperature decrease in eyeball and orbit soft tissues contrary to muscles and rectum, what demonstrates that temperature measurements in the eye could become an alternative method of determining the time of death during the initial phase of postmortem cooling. During this early postmortem period determination of the time of death based on measurements of the rectum or muscles temperatures due to existing plateau is not possible.

From the *Forensic Medicine Section, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; †Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland; ‡Department of Pig Breeding and Production, Agricultural University of Poznań, Poznań, Poland; and §Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland.

Manuscript received December 6, 2007; accepted May 7, 2008.

Figures can be viewed in color at

Reprints: Michał Kaliszan, MD, PhD, Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical University of Gdańsk, ul. Dębowa 23, 80-204, Gdańsk, Poland. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.