Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

: 1974  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 17--19

Bacterial flora of cadaver's conjunctival sac

 Tutor in Ophthalmology, S. P. Medical College, Bikaner, India

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Tutor in Ophthalmology, S. P. Medical College, Bikaner

How to cite this article:
Sudama. Bacterial flora of cadaver's conjunctival sac.Indian J Ophthalmol 1974;22:17-19

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Sudama. Bacterial flora of cadaver's conjunctival sac. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1974 [cited 2021 Jan 19 ];22:17-19
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Full Text

In order to avoid sepsis in cases of keratop­lasty it is important for one to know the pre­sence of bacterial flora in the cadaver's eye. It is very well known that the presence of bacteria is in direct relationship with the time lapse after death, cause of death, and the atmospheric temperature. In India one has to wait for about 24 hours after death to declare a body unclaimed. The present study is there­fore aimed to find out the effect of time lapse after death, and the temperature in which the dead bodies are kept in the mortuary, on the bacterial flora of the cadaver's eyes.

 Method and Material

Present study was conducted on 30 cadavers from General hospital, Udaipur during the year 1969-70. Conjunctival swabs were taken 12 to 24 hours after death. Two swabs were taken from each eye. One was inoculated in glucose broth, while the other in nutrient agar, blood agar, and MacConkey's media. Atmospheric temperature was also recorded. The media were placed in an incubator for 24 hours. Types of organism were identified by their morpho­logical structure, gram's staining, and biochemical properties. Sensitivity was found by dry disc method.

 Observations and discussion

[Table 1] shows the cause of death in 30 cases.

In this series it was observed that group I showed positive growth in 54.54%, 61% in group II and 93.33% in group III. These figures suggest that the incidence of contamina­tion increases with the lapse of time [Table 2]. These observations are contarary to these of Kanski [3] . He observed that incidence of positive culture was higher (63.8%) when examined 1-2 hours after death as compared to 9-11 hours after death (52.5%).

The present study shows that the incidence of gram negative bacteria increased with the time lapse, as compared to grain positive cocci. Gram negative bacilli were present in 23.5% in group I, 40% in group II, and 50% in group III [Table 3]. These observations agree with the findings of Kanski [3] .

The incidence of E. Coli was higher with lapse of time. E. Coli being intestinal organism spread rapidly after death to abdominal organs e. g. spleen and liver [2] . However this is unlikely for the conjunctival sac. The only possibility is through acend via gastro-intesti­nal tract or from the nasal cavity. Lesser frequency of gram positive cocci with the increase time lapse could be there because of local conditions of the sac which gradually become unfavourable for the gram positive cocci to grow. [Table 4] shows the type of bacteria in relation to the cause of death.

In the present study temperature had varied from 16°C to 39°C. It was observed that incidence of bacteria was 100% when bodies were kept at temperature from 16° C to 27° C, while 22 eyes showed sterile culture from the bodies kept between 28°C to 39°C. [Table 5]

The conjunctival organisms were more when the temperature was above 28° C. Below the temperature 28°C (16-27° C), Staphylococcus, streptococcus haemolyticus, streptococcus viridans and alkaligans faecalis were isolated. Above 28°C E. coli, streptococcus non-haemolyticus, and Morax Axenfeld bacilli were isolated. This shows that temperature plays an important role in the growth of the particular organism. We have come across no such report in the literature showing the relation between temperature and the presence of the type of bacteria, and hence present data cannot be compared[4].


Present study was aimed to find out the relation of bacterial flora with the time lapse after death, atmospheric temperature and cause of death.


1Boberg-Ans, Jorn, Edith Badsber and Rasuggen Jorgen. 1962. Brit. J. Ophthal. 46:365;
2Duke Elder. System of Ophthalmology. VIII (1965) p. 158.
3Kanski, J. J. 1965. Brit. J. Ophthal. 49:455;
4Polack, F. M.; Deborah Locateeher Fnorazo Elizabeth Gutierrez. 1967. A. M. A. Arch. Ophthal. 78:219-25;