Bioelectrical Impedance as a Technique for Estimating Postmortem Interval*,†,‡

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Estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) is a critical component of death investigation. A cadaver can be hypothesized to be a resistor–capacitor (RC) circuit the impedance (Z) of which changes in a quantifiable manner as the cadaver decomposes. This hypothesis was tested using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) equipment to apply a current with a fixed amplitude at a single frequency to four cadavers over time and measuring two components of Z, resistance (R) and reactance (Xc). Quadratic regression analysis between Z and accumulated degree days (ADD) showed a statistically significant parabolic relationship. The parabolic relationship poses an initial challenge to the use of the method, and additional research is needed to address this issue. However, the results of the reported research support the hypothesis that Z measured using BIA has a relationship to PMI.

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