Elvira Ventura Spagnolo, Cristina Mondello, Chiara Stassi, Gennaro Baldino, Francesco D’Aleo, Marco Conte, Antonina Argo, Stefania Zerbo
The importance of microbial colonization of human organs in a living body has long been assessed. What still remains unclear are the microbial changes occurring after death, thus leading to the advent of a relatively novel field of research called “Postmortem microbiology”. It is applied to several forensic fields such as post-mortem interval assessment and cause of death determination. In this contest, a major limit is thus represented by the correct interpretation of the microbial data and by the actual lack of standard procedures. Here we propose a standard operative protocol in order to avoid false positives given by contamination (the main problem), post-mortem translocation and agonal spread. The protocol was implemented in 36 judiciary autopsies and allowed in the assessment of an infection in 10 cases. The study showed the usefulness of the protocol which also supports the contribution of forensic microbiology, together with clinical, histopathological, biochemical and autopsy data, to the determination of infectious cause of death.