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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2018 Dec;39(4):364-366. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000431.

Postmortem Hyperthermia: Two Case Reports and a Review of the Literature.

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Institut de médecine légale de Strasbourg, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France.


In this daily practice, the forensic pathologist is rarely confronted with postmortem hyperthermia associated with the rapid onset of rigor mortis. We report 2 similar cases where the rectal temperature value taken during the on-scene investigations by the forensic pathologist was greater than 40°C (104°F) in both cases, and rigor mortis was complete within less than 6 hours postmortem. The first case was due to a deadly intoxication by ecstasy and the second one to the deadly association of methadone and a possible neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Infection-related deaths were eliminated. Thus, the association of postmortem hyperthermia and rapid-onset rigor mortis would suggest in the first hypothesis a toxic death, particularly 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. However, an autopsy and toxicological analysis are necessary to confirm the cause of death.

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