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Experimental sharp force injuries to ribs: Multimodal morphological and geometric morphometric analyses using micro-CT, macro photography and SEM

Komo, Larissa, Grassberger, Martin
Forensic science international 2018 v.288 pp. 189-200
blades, computer software, forensic sciences, geometry, image analysis, knives, maceration, micro-computed tomography, morphometry, photography, ribs, scanning electron microscopy, shrinkage, swine
Tool marks on bones induced by knife blades can be analysed morphometrically in order to enable an allocation of the suspected “inflicting weapon” to the particular morphology of the bone lesions. Until now, geometric morphometrics has not been used to analyse the morphology of knife lesions on fleshed bones in detail.By using twelve experimental knives and a drop weight tower, stab/cut injuries were inflicted on untreated pig ribs. The morphology of the experimentally produced lesions was subsequently recorded with three imaging techniques (μCT, macro photography and SEM) and analysed with different morphometric software (Amira, tps and Morpheus).Based on the measured distances between the walls of the kerf marks, which corresponded to the thickness of the blade, one could conclude to the respective blade thickness with a deviation of max. ±0.35mm and match the injuries to the knives. With subsequent reanalysis after maceration, an average shrinkage factor up to 8.6% was observed.Among the three imaging techniques used in this study, μCT was the most accurate and efficient technique, particularly because it represented the only non-destructive modality to document injuries without maceration, even though μCT is more expensive and time-consuming as well as less accessible than a macro SLR-camera or a SEM. For optimal characterizations of the blades’ and kerfs’ shapes the software tps proofed to be the best choice. Accordingly, geometric morphometrics could serve as a tool in forensic investigations concerning kerf marks.