(Received 23 June 1983; accepted 12 July 1983)
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Vitreous humor chemistry profiles were reviewed on 133 autopsied cases in which death occurred outdoors during a six-year period, to determine whether environmental temperature at the time of death influenced chemistry values obtained at autopsy. The glucose concentration and total carbon dioxide content varied inversely with temperature. Values were significantly higher in the winter than the summer months. The mean glucose level was higher in deaths caused by cold exposure than in other deaths occurring in the cold, but individual cases could not be distinguished on the basis of chemistry values. Potassium levels tended to be slightly lower in winter. It was noted that chemistry studies could be used to help determine whether a body found outdoors in winter actually died in a different, warmer environment.
Deputy Medical Examiner, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Washington, DC
Stock #: JFS11685J