• amputation;
  • antemortem;
  • fracture;
  • histology;
  • human dry bone;
  • radiology;
  • survival


The post-traumatic status of antemortem fractures in human dry bone remains is currently defined as being either ‘healing’ or ‘healed’. However, detailed ‘dating’ of the related post-traumatic time interval would be desirable, since it would aid in assessing individual medical status and care at the time of death. Within forensic pathology practice, fresh tissue healing phases are routinely used as an intrinsic parameter for the length of the post-traumatic time interval. Unfortunately, the direct application of such a method is hampered when applied to dry bone skeletal material.

This study explores the possibility of applying a fracture dating system, drawn forth from the traditional forensic pathology method, on dry bone remains. More specifically, the aim is to establish the extent to which various histomorphological features indicative of specific time intervals of healing are consistently detectable. Human dry bones with fractures and amputations in various phases of healing were studied.

Results show that the complementary use of radiological and histological investigation techniques improves the differentiation between various healing phases and thus allow for a more detailed dating of lesions. For future use, healing features that have proven to be consistently detectable and their related post traumatic time intervals are listed. The system aids in demarcating a considerably more ‘narrow’ post-traumatic time interval than usual. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.