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Brain temperature


Measurement of brain temperature and ambient temperature to estimate the time of death was introduced by Claus Henßge in 1984 (Z Rechtsmed. 1984;93(1):1-22).


Brain temperature is measured using a temperature probe, which is introduced through the lamina cribrosa of the superior surface of the nasal cavity. The tip of the probe should reach the central brain.

Accuracy and use

Measurement of the temperature difference between the brain and the environment is regarded as a more precise method than rectal temperature in the first 6 hours after death.

A measurement performed within the first six hours after death has a confidence interval of ±1.5 hours the first 6.5 hrs after death, increasing to ± 4.1 hrs after 16 hrs.


Shift in ambient temperature has to be taken into consideration when interpreting the results.