Comparison of chemical methods for determining postmortem interval

D. L. Sparks, P. R. Oeltgen, R. J. Kryscio, J. C. Hunsaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Accurate determination of postmortem interval (PMI) is a problem for the forensic thanatologist, especially in unwitnessed deaths. A number of objective chemical methods for determining PMI have been developed, the most widely used being accumulation of potassium in the vitreous humor. The authors previously have reported a chemical method for determining PMI from the predictable accumulation or clearance of the dopaminergic metabolite 3-methoxy-tyramine (3-MT) in the putamen of the brain. They have extended their previous study to compare directly the accuracy of determining PMI from the level of 3-MT in putamen with the level of potassium in vitreous humor. The data indicate that 3-MT is at least as accurate as, if not more accurate than, potassium accumulation in vitreous humor, although 3-MT levels can be affected by the cause of death and drugs present at the time of death. Nevertheless, determination of both the 3-MT and potassium levels can afford the most accurate method of determining PMI; preliminary nomograms for determining PMI from both variables are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of chemical methods for determining postmortem interval'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this