Soon after the death of the corpse develop postmortem changes. Visible to the naked eye, these include the lack of breathing and heartbeat, blurred and drying of corneas, cadaveric cooling and stiffness, cadaveric spots and decomposition.
Cooling occurs due to the cessation of heat generation and continues up until the body temperature becomes equal to the ambient temperature. Hands and feet get cold in 1-2 hours, belly in 10-12 hours. Turbidity and drying of the cornea is connected with evaporation of moisture from the surface of the body.
Cadaveric stiffness occurs in 2-5 hours after death and is expressed in the reduction and compaction muscle - first chewing, then the muscles of the upper limbs, trunk and lower limbs. The nature of this phenomenon is unclear: apparently, stiffness associated with the breakdown of glycogen in the muscles and the formation of lactic acid and subsequent swelling of colloids myofibrils.
After 3-5 days stiffness "permitted", i.e. disappears in the same order as they appeared. The reason for "permission" is also not clear: it is assumed that it is associated with excessive accumulation of lactic acid.
Cadaveric spots can be early (gemostaz) and late (imbibery); they arise from the reduction in arteries, the blood goes in vein drains into force of gravity in the lower divisions of the body. The location of the corpse spots depends on the position in which the person was at the time of death. Gipoteza (see) occur through 3-6 hours. after death, have dark purple color and turn pale when pressure is applied on them (unlike bruises). When the incision of the skin in the area of gipoteza from overcrowded veins oozing blood. Gipotezy can move by changing the position of the corpse. Imbibery (see) develops after about 7 hours, when the hemoglobin of the red blood cells proceeds in the plasma (hemolysis), with which penetrates through the blood vessels into surrounding tissue, giving them a dirty brown color.
Cadaveric decomposition represents the decay of tissues by enzymatic action of microbes; starts with samoupravlanja (autolysis)associated with the action on the tissues of their own enzymes. Under the influence of putrefactive bacteria of the intestine occurs rot. The signs of decay - putrid smell, dirty greenish color of the skin of the abdomen and other departments. When expressed decomposition of the corpse soft tissue melted, turning into a dirty stinking grey mass, often riddled with gas bubbles (the so-called corpse emphysema), giving the tissues frothy appearance, decay Rates depend on the conditions in which there is a corpse, and causes of death, the body decomposes faster in warm and humid environment, in a dry environment can be cured so-called mummification (see). The decomposition of the corpse accelerated after death from septic diseases. On average, the complete collapse of tissues occurs about two years. Autopsies usually produced not earlier than 2 hours after death, but in connection with the expansion of scientific research and study of the processes of transplantation at present the orders of Ministry of health of the time is not regulated, so opening can be made at any time after observing biological death. In scientific and pedagogical purposes is allowed a reduction of this period provided that the death found two doctors with compulsory testing of samples, allowing safe to set the actual death.
In medical institutions is working with the corpses with educational purpose, organs and parts of the corpse used as visual AIDS (anatomy).
The preservation of the corpse and prevent rotting facilitated by various methods of embalming corpses (see). Embalming is especially necessary when transporting corpses over long distances, for preparation of manuals and forensic purposes. Storage of dead bodies in the hospital in a cool place at a temperature below zero.
Disposal of the dead is permitted not earlier than 48 hours after death and no later than 72 hours. (see the Burial of the dead).
Cm. the Autopsy.