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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • autopsy techniques;
  • cervical spine;
  • neck injuries;
  • neuropathology;
  • vertebral artery injury

Abstract:  Vertebral artery removing constitutes a significant forensic pathology challenge. Dissection techniques during head–neck autopsy are based on anterior approach, a difficult method, which is unable to assess the transverse part of the artery. This work presents an original and simple method for dissecting vertebral arteries by a posterior approach, opening the vertebroarterial canal through the spinal canal without any special equipment. Once the spinal cord is removed, the transversarium foramens are opened by an internal cut at the pedicle and an external cut at the transverse process. This enables us to visualize vertebral arteries in its entirety. The method improves both the examination of the upper extracranial segment of the vertebral artery and the neuropathological study when arterial injury is suspected. Applying this method routinely is both feasible and useful in suspected cases of vertebral artery trauma and could contribute to assess more precisely the actual incidence of this injury.