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Body Coloration Artifacts Encountered at Medicolegal Autopsy in India

Behera, Chittaranjan, MD*; Chauhan, Mohit, MD; Sikary, Asit Kumar, MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2019 - Volume 40 - Issue 2 - p 129–135
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000468
Historical Review

Application of color on the external body surface before, during, and after death, such as during a festivity, cultural occasion, or after death ritual, can present as an artifact at forensic autopsy. The present study is a retrospective review of body color artifacts collected from postmortem reports, inquest papers and photographs of each individual case autopsied at our institutes during a 12 year period from 2004 to 2015. The reason for body colorations were various festivities, after death rituals and beautification products, among others. The body coloration mimicked antemortem changes, such as cyanosis, injury, jaundice, and congestion, as well as postmortem changes, such as postmortem lividity and early decomposition changes. These artifacts were differentiated by seeing the body before the washing of the color, history of the application of the color, and by various additional features, such as unusual appearance, distribution, and sites. They were not supported by any other findings on the body to consider them as genuine antemortem or postmortem findings.

From the *Department of Forensic Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi;

Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, SGT University, Chandu Budhera, Gurugram, Haryana; and

Department of Forensic Medicine, ESIC Medical College, Faridabad, Haryana, India.

Manuscript received September 27, 2018; accepted January 15, 2019.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Asit Kumar Sikary, MD, Department of Forensic Medicine, ESIC Medical College, NIT3 Faridabad 121001, India. E-mail:

© 2019 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.