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Rigor mortis

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Title: Rigor mortis  
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Subject: Decomposition, Embalming, Rigor mortis (disambiguation), Changing username/Simple/Archive193, Cadaveric spasm
Collection: Latin Medical Phrases, Medical Aspects of Death, Signs of Death
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Rigor mortis

Stages of death

Pallor mortis
Algor mortis
Rigor mortis
Livor mortis
Putrefaction
Decomposition
Skeletonization

Rigor mortis (Latin: rigor "stiffness", mortis "of death") is one of the recognizable signs of death, caused by chemical changes in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to stiffen.[1]

Contents

  • Physiology 1
  • Physical changes 2
  • Applications in meat industry 3
  • Application in forensic pathology 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7

Physiology

After death, respiration in organisms ceases to occur, depleting the corpse of oxygen used in the making of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As there is a complete loss of ATP, which is required to cause separation of the cross-bridges during relaxation, the myosin heads continue binding with the active sites of actin proteins via adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and the muscle is unable to relax until further enzyme activity degrades the complex.[2]

Normal relaxation would occur by replacing ADP with ATP. However, as it is absent, there must be a breakdown of muscle tissue by enzymes (endogenous or bacterial) during decomposition. As part of the process of decomposition, the myosin heads are degraded by the enzymes, allowing the muscle contraction to release and the body to relax.[3][4]

Physical changes

At the time of death, a condition called "primary flaccidity" occurs. Following this, the muscles stiffen in rigor mortis. All muscles in the body are affected. Starting between two to six hours following death, rigor mortis begins with the eyelids, neck, and jaw. The sequence may be due to different

  • Bear, Mark F; Connors, Barry W.; Paradiso, Michael A., Neuroscience, Exploring the Brain, Philadelphia : Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; Third Edition (1 February 2006). ISBN 0-7817-6003-8
  • Robert G. Mayer, "Embalming: history, theory, and practice", McGraw-Hill Professional, 2005, ISBN 0-07-143950-1
  • "Rigor Mortis and Other Postmortem Changes - Burial, Body, Life, Cause, Time, Person, Human, Putrefaction." Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2011. Web. 4 December 2011. .
  • Saladin, Kenneth. Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function, 6th ed. McGraw-Hill. New York, 2012.
  • Peress, Robin. "Discovery Health "Rigor Mortis at the Crime Scene"" Discovery Health "Health Guides" Discovery Fit & Health, 2011. Web. 4 December 2011. .

Bibliography

  1. ^ Saladin, K.S. 2010. Anatomy & Physiology: 6th edition. McGraw-Hill.
  2. ^ Hall, John E., and Arthur C. Guyton. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier, 2011. MD Consult. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
  3. ^ About.com
  4. ^ http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/zoo00/zoo00248.htm
  5. ^ "Rigor Mortis and Other Postmortem Changes - Burial, Body, Life, Cause, Time, Person, Human, Putrefaction." Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2011. Web. 4 December 2011. .
  6. ^ "Carcass electrical stimulation to prevent cold shortening toughness in beef", DAVEY, GILBERT, CARSE, Meat Industry Research Institute of New Zealand, 1975 via Google Books
  7. ^ Peress, Robin. "Discovery Health "Rigor Mortis at the Crime Scene"" Discovery Health "Health Guides" Discovery Fit & Health, 2011. Web. 4 December 2011.
  8. ^ Estimating The Time of Death, ExploreForensics

References

See also

The degree of rigor mortis may be used in forensic pathology to determine the approximate time of death. A dead body holds its position as rigor mortis sets in. If the body is moved after death, but before rigor mortis begins, forensic techniques such as Livor mortis can be applied. If the position in which a body is found does not match the location where it is found (for example, if it is flat on its back with one arm sticking straight up), that could mean someone moved it. Several factors also affect the progression of rigor mortis, and investigators take these into account when estimating the time of death. One such factor is the ambient temperature. When conditions are warm, the onset and pace of rigor mortis are sped up by providing a conducive environment for the metabolic processes that cause decay. Low temperatures, however, slow them down. Therefore, for a person who dies outside in frozen conditions rigor mortis may last several days more than normal, so investigators may have to abandon it as a tool for determining time of death.[7][8]

Application in forensic pathology

Cold shortening is caused by the release of stored calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum of muscle fibers in response to the cold stimulus. The calcium ions trigger powerful muscle contraction aided by ATP molecules. To prevent cold shortening, a process known as electrical stimulation is carried out, especially in beef carcasses, immediately after slaughter and skinning. In this process, the carcass is stimulated with alternating current, causing it to contract and relax, which depletes the ATP reserve from the carcass and prevents cold shortening.[6]

Rigor mortis is very important in meat technology. The onset of rigor mortis and its resolution partially determines the tenderness of meat. If the postslaughter meat is immediately chilled to 15°C (59°F), a phenomenon known as cold shortening occurs, where the muscle sarcomeres shrink to a third of their original length.

Applications in meat industry

[5]

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