Volume 46, Issue 2 (March 2001)
Multiple-Probe Thermography for Estimating the Postmortem Interval: I. Continuous Monitoring and Data Analysis of Brain, Liver, Rectal and Environmental Temperatures in 117 Forensic Cases
One hundred seventeen forensic postmortem cases have been studied under controlled conditions. In each case, temperatures of the brain, liver, rectum, and the environment were monitored over a period beginning shortly after death and ending up to 60 h postmortem. The four temperature measurements were recorded every 5 to 10 min using the Microwave Thermography System. Rectal and environmental temperatures were measured by electrical thermocouples while brain and liver temperatures were measured using microwave probes. Data acquisition, analogue-to-digital conversion (ADC), and data processing were provided by a microcomputer. The ADC technique is described and its problems are discussed. The data were then transferred to a mainframe computer for extensive curve-fitting and statistical analysis. The microcomputer-based ADC and data logging and acquisition were found to be accurate, fast, easy to implement, and useful for the field. The postmortem rate of human body cooling was found to be adequately represented by triple-exponential equations.