Journal Published Online: 01 January 2001
Volume 46, Issue 1

Postmortem Microscopic Changes Observed at the Human Head Hair Proximal End



Only two types of human hair roots (proximal ends) derived from decomposing scalps are reported in the literature. The most common representation of the putrid root includes a postmortem dark root band in published photomicrographs. In this study, 22 cases were reviewed in which there was reliable time of death documentation from medical investigator reports. A review of these cases finds that the most common putrid hair proximal end change does not contain the postmortem root band. Four primary types of hair proximal end postmortem change were identified. This study finds no correlation of time of death with scalp hair proximal end decomposition. In addition two examples are presented that suggest that hair roots do not decompose after fresh removal from the scalp and exposure to the outside elements.

Author Information

Linch, CA
Division of Forensic Science, Richmond, VA
Prahlow, JA
Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend Center for Medical Education at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
Pages: 6
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS14906J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS14906J