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Forensic Sci Int. 2009 Nov 20;192(1-3):43-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.07.016. Epub 2009 Aug 29.

Serial postmortem abdominal radiographic findings in canine cadavers.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Purdue University, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 4790, USA. hheng@purdue.edu


Postmortem radiographic examinations of animals are often performed in judicial investigation to rule out gunshot and fractures due to cruelty or illegal hunting or poaching activities. Literature describing postmortem changes seen on radiographs of animals is rarely available. Serial abdominal radiography of 6 recently euthanized dogs were performed in an interval of 8h at a tropical ambient temperature of 22-33 degrees C. Severe decomposition of the cadavers prevented the study to be performed beyond 24h. Gradual increment of gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract, liver, spleen, kidney and blood vessels were observed. Increased amount of gas in the gastrointestinal tract was detected as early as 8h post-euthanasia and continuously increased throughout the study. Gas was seen in the portal vein and caudal vena cava of all cadavers at 16h post-euthanasia. The presence of gas in the aorta occurred at a later stage. Tubular branching gas pattern in the liver and spleen was first observed and progressed to vesicular gas pattern due to tissue decomposition. This study showed that abdominal radiographic postmortem changes occurred most rapidly between 8 and 16h post-euthanasia at the ambient temperature of 22-33 degrees C.

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