Differentiation of Perimortem Trauma From Heat Fractures in Cranial and Irregular Bones in Cases of Cremation

  • Author / Creator
    Friedlander, Hanna R
  • Trauma investigations in forensic experimentation are largely done on human long bones or animal substitutes. There is limited research on how trauma impacts human cranial and irregular bones. Distinct structural differences between these bone types means long bone trauma cannot be directly applied to cranial and irregular bones. Similarities in data collection are seen in research revolving around heat alteration and bone: long bones and animal substitutes are used, but are not proper alternatives for human cranial and irregular bones. The information and data from this research work to expand what is known about trauma and heat alteration with regards to human cranial and irregular bones. Finding fresh human cranial and irregular bones for use in forensic recreations is largely unheard of, so this research also explores the ability to use embalmed human cadavers as a source for future forensic work. There is very little research on how formalin impacts the histological structure of bone. This research tests two problems: 1) can formalin fixed (embalmed) human cadavers be used instead of animal substitutes or fresh cadavers in experimental models? And 2) can perimortem trauma be differentiated from heat fractures in cranial and irregular bones in cases of cremation? Formalin fixed human cadaver femoral shafts were subjected to partial cremation, both at 600C and 800C, with an additional sample left unburned as a control unit. The thin sections of this study were directly compared to those of another study using cremated femoral shafts of fresh cadavers. Results indicated the control sample was largely unaltered by formalin, as were those samples burned at 600C; however, samples burned at 800C showed increased structural damage when compared to their non-formalin fixed counterparts. The 800C samples more closely resembled the non-formalin fixed samples that burned at 1000C. Conclusions for this experiment indicate formalin fixed human remains can be used in forensic recreations, so long as the temperature is kept under 800C. Five formalin fixed human calottes and five human hemipelves were donated by the Anatomical Gifts Program (AGP) at the University of Alberta. These remains were used to help determine if perimortem trauma could be differentiated from heat fractures in cases of cremation. The remains were traumatized while unburnt with blunt or sharp force trauma; two were left untouched as control units. Post-cremation, 180 mixed traumatic and heat fractures were analyzed to discern the two. Curvature analysis was done by creating 3D virtual models of various points along the 180 fracture lines, looking at fracture boundary lines, slopes, and variances in the microscopic details within the fracture walls. This analysis showed distinct differences, on a microscopic level, between types of traumatic fractures and heat fractures. Qualitative analysis of the remains proved successful; attempts at quantitative analysis have thus far failed, requiring a greater examination of the quantitative aspects of fracture patterns and slope based on fracture morphology.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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