Rectal temperature-based death time estimation in infants

Yui Igari, Yoshiyuki Hosokai, Masato Funayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In determining the time of death in infants based on rectal temperature, the same methods used in adults are generally used. However, whether the methods for adults are suitable for infants is unclear. In this study, we examined the following 3 methods in 20 infant death cases: computer simulation of rectal temperature based on the infinite cylinder model (Ohno's method), computer-based double exponential approximation based on Marshall and Hoare's double exponential model with Henssge's parameter determination (Henssge's method), and computer-based collinear approximation based on extrapolation of the rectal temperature curve (collinear approximation). The interval between the last time the infant was seen alive and the time that he/she was found dead was defined as the death time interval and compared with the estimated time of death. In Ohno's method, 7 cases were within the death time interval, and the average deviation in the other 12 cases was approximately 80 min. The results of both Henssge's method and collinear approximation were apparently inferior to the results of Ohno's method. The corrective factor was set within the range of 0.7-1.3 in Henssge's method, and a modified program was newly developed to make it possible to change the corrective factors. Modification A, in which the upper limit of the corrective factor range was set as the maximum value in each body weight, produced the best results: 8 cases were within the death time interval, and the average deviation in the other 12 cases was approximately 80 min. There was a possibility that the influence of thermal isolation on the actual infants was stronger than that previously shown by Henssge. We conclude that Ohno's method and Modification A are useful for death time estimation in infants. However, it is important to accept the estimated time of death with certain latitude considering other circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalLegal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1


  • Infants
  • Rectal temperature
  • Time of death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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