Postmortem biochemistry: Current applications

Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
S L Belsey, Robert J Flanagan

Abstract

The results of biochemical analyses in specimens obtained postmortem may aid death investigation when diabetic and alcoholic ketoacidosis is suspected, when death may have been the result of drowning, anaphylaxis, or involved a prolonged stress response such as hypothermia, and in the diagnosis of disease processes such as inflammation, early myocardial infarction, or sepsis. There is often cross-over with different disciplines, in particular with clinical and forensic toxicology, since some endogenous substances such as sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and insulin can be used as poisons. The interpretation of results is often complicated because of the likelihood of postmortem change in analyte concentration or activity, and proper interpretation must take into account all the available evidence. The unpredictability of postmortem changes means that use of biochemical measurements in time of death estimation has little value. The use of vitreous humour is beneficial for many analytes as the eye is in a physically protected environment, this medium may be less affected by autolysis or microbial metabolism than blood, and the assays can be performed with due precaution using standard clinical chemistry analysers. However, in...Continue Reading

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Anaphylaxis
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