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Jan 31, 2011
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Lividity
by: Glenn Wilcher

Lividity is a post mortem change after death. It has other names such as post mortem staining, hypostasis, and suggilation.

It results from venous blood settling with gravity. It is also evident internally.
initially lividity is not fixed and will blanch on fingertip pressure. After a period of time it will 'fix' in distribution depending the position the body was found in. In early stages lividity will change in distribution if the bodys position is changed.

Lividity has no forensic significance with time of death but is mainly confirming the position the body was in and if the body had been moved.
Internally organs such as the dependent loops of bowel and lower lobes of the lungs will demonstrate a dark purple colour due to the blood settling with gravity.

If the body is in a supine position lividity will be distributed over the back with co0mpressed areas in contact with surface the body laying on such as the buttocks and shoulders being pale due to pressure. Clothing labels can be 'imprinted' on the skin due to lividity or any objects embedded in the skin or flooring patterns like tiles depending what the body is lying on.

A differentiation required sometimes is between bruising and lividity which can simply be determined by making an incision into the skin and seeing if the staining is in the fat from ruptured vessels.

This is a brief description of lividity and is well covered in any forensic textbook.

Glenn Wilcher Lab Tech


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