Thanatology

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thanatology

[‚than·ə′täl·ə·jē]
(medicine)
The study of the phenomenon of somatic death.

Thanatology

 

the division of medical, biological, and clinical disciplines that studies the immediate causes of death as well as thanatogenesis, or the clinical and morphological manifestations and dynamics of dying. Thanatology also studies medical intervention in the death process to revive the organism or alleviate the death agony.

A distinction is made between general and specific thanatology. General thanatology studies the overall death process, and specific thanatology studies the terminal state associated with different diseases and different causes of death. Specific thanatology involves a consecutive study of data on the course of the given disease, on the hereditary and constitutional predispositions to the disease, and on the clinical and morphologial manifestations of the disease. On the basis of these data, the clinical and anatomical epicrisis, or thanatological analysis, is made. The epicrisis is particularly important in forensic medicine and forensic thanatology.

In relation to the growing importance of the discipline of reanimatology, the field of experimental thanatology has developed. Experimental thanatology studies the cessation or restoration of the body’s vital functions during the terminal state. Clinical and experimental studies have established that the basic terminal pathogenetic factor in all forms of the death process is hypoxia, a state involving the accumulation of incompletely oxidized products in the cells and tissues. These studies have also demonstrated the important role played in the death process by the impairment of nervous function and of the hormonal, enzymatic, and ionic equilibriums.

REFERENCES

Shor, G. V. “Tanatologiia (uchenie o smerti) pod uglom zreniia patologicheskoi anatomii.” In Trudy I Vserossiiskogo s”ezda patologov. Moscow, 1924.
Negovskii, V. A. “Osnovnye itogi patofiziologicheskogo izucheniia protsessov umiraniia i ozhivleniia organizma.” Arkhiv patologii, 1962, vol. 24, no. 7.

V. V. SEROV