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A method for the development of cranial fracture histology slides

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 67 Issue: 5 Dated: 12 July 2022 Pages: 2040-2047
Date Published
July 2022
8 pages

In this report, the authors provide a detailed methodology for processing human cranial bone fractures from excision to staining and methodological solutions to common problems that are often encountered with bone histology.


Cranial vault fractures are of medicolegal interest as they have long-term impacts to someone's health and may contribute to an individual's death. The ability to distinguish antemortem from perimortem fractures and to assess the age of the injury is increasingly dependent on histology. Despite the increasing role of histology in assessing the microanatomy of osseous fractures, there are no methods currently available which account for the nuances and difficulties in creating high-quality histologic slides of cranial vault fractures that allow visualization of cellular features associated with healing bone. The authors present a modified method specific to slide development of human cranial vault fractures derived from the trial-and-error process of creating 730 such slides over a three-year period which are suitable for the evaluation of the tissues, cells, and nuclei involved in fracture healing. This method adapts and troubleshoots typical histological procedures including sample excision, fixation, decalcification, dehydrating, clearing, embedding, microtomy, and staining, and introduces new procedures including preprocessing photography and cassette placement. By implementing these modifications, the number of poor-quality slides that required a new section to be sent to the histology laboratory was greatly reduced. Proactively implementing this new method into cranial fracture histologic slide development significantly reduces the number of slide rejections due to common issues like folding, chatter, or insufficient staining, saving both time and financial resources for forensic practitioners, researchers, and histotechnologists. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: July 1, 2022