Assessment of Maceration Techniques Used to Remove Soft Tissue from Bone in Cut Mark Analysis

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Maceration techniques employed in forensics must be effective without compromising the bone's integrity and morphology, and prevent destruction of evidence. Techniques must also be fast, safe, easily obtainable and inexpensive; not all techniques currently employed are appropriate for forensic use. To evaluate the most suitable approach, seven techniques including current and new methodologies were applied to fresh, fleshed porcine ribs exhibiting cut marks. A sample size of 30 specimens per technique was examined under scanning electron microscopy at the cut mark and the surrounding uncompromised regions; a scoring system of effectiveness was applied. The previously unpublished microwave method fared best for bone and cut mark preservation. Sodium hypochlorite destroyed cut marks, and was deemed unsuitable for forensic analysis. No single technique fulfilled all criteria; however, this study provides a benchmark for forensic anthropologists to select the most appropriate method for their situation, while maintaining the high standards required by forensic science.

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