Identification and interpretation of artefacts encountered during medico-legal autopsies

Anand Kumar Vasudevan, Stephen Cordner, M. P. Kumar, J. Vinay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Artefacts exist in every branch, unless a professional man recognizes these. The forensic pathologist who conducts medico-legal autopsy will undoubtedly encounter one or the other situations where ones opinions are contrary to which he or she originally believed upon. Post-mortem study of “Identification and Interpretation of Artefacts encountered during Medico-legal Autopsies” was carried out in two places simultaneously, at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Medical College, Bangalore, from February 2003 to September 2004. Also, continued at The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia by the author from May 20, 2004. A total of 128 (13.64%) artefacts were encountered from the 938 medico-legal autopsies conducted. Artefacts due to various factors enumerated such as decomposition (31.3%) is the major contributor, followed by burns (15.6%), breaking of rigor due to handling of the bodies and agonal artefacts found respectively (14.8%), artefacts due to animal and insect activity (12.5%), faulty dissection technique led to artefacts (8.5%) and that due to resuscitative techniques resulted in (2.3%) respectively. As the analysis indicates that the number of artefacts (13.64%) encountered itself speaks the importance of the study. In medico legal cases misinterpretations may turn to have disastrous effects, particularly in an instance where homicide is a possibility. However, these may make the difference between freedom and imprisonment or the life or death sentence for some one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalMedico Legal Update
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Artefact
  • Investigations
  • Medico-legal autopsies

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