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    Re-establishment of rigor mortis following mechanical loosening is used as part of the complex method for the forensic estimation of the time since death in human bodies and has formerly been reported to occur up to 8-12 h post-mortem (hpm). We recently described our observation of the phenomenon in up to 19 hpm in cases with in-hospital death. Due to the case selection (preceding illness, immobilisation), transfer of these results to forensic cases might be limited. We therefore examined 67 out-of-hospital cases of sudden death with known time points of death. Re-establishment of rigor mortis was positive in 52.2% of cases and was observed up to 20 hpm. In contrast to the current doctrine that a recurrence of rigor mortis is always of a lesser degree than its first manifestation in a given patient, muscular rigidity at re-establishment equalled or even exceeded the degree observed before dissolving in 21 joints. Furthermore, this is the first study to describe that the phenomenon appears to be independent of body or ambient temperature.


    Chiara Crostack, Susanne Sehner, Tobias Raupach, Sven Anders. Re-establishment of rigor mortis: evidence for a considerably longer post-mortem time span. International journal of legal medicine. 2017 Jul;131(4):1039-1042

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    PMID: 28213867

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