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A software to estimate the time of death?

December 06, 2008 15:41 IST

Scientists have proposed a new method to estimate the approximate time of death, based on the analysis of several substances from the vitreous humour of the eye of cadavers.

A team at the University of Santiago de Compostela has developed a piece of software which in fact makes it possible to establish precisely the post mortem interval, information that will make the work of police easier, the Statistics in Medicine journal reported.

To apply this technique, the researchers analysed potassium, urea and hypoxantine concentrations present in the vitreous humour of the eye of the human cadaver, and then introduced the figures into a computer programme.

Subsequently, the software that has been invented by these Galician scientists uses this information and is capable of establishing the time at which death occurred.

"The equations we have developed now make it possible for us to estimate the PMI more precisely than before, and provide a useful and accessible tool to forensic pathologists that is easy to use," Jos Ignacio Munoz Bars, who led the team, was quoted by the ScienceDaily as saying.

The traditional techniques for estimating the PMI are based on the study of parameters such as rectal temperature of the cadaver or one of the organs, such as the liver, in rigor mortis, or post mortem lividity examination.

These methods are complemented by biochemical analyses of the body fluids. One of these is the vitreous humour, the gelatinous liquid that is found behind the crystalline lens of the eye.

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