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Noninvasive in situ proton MRS in muscle tissue and bone marrow as a novel approach to identify previous freezing in a completely thawed cadaver


Gascho, Dominic; Richter, Henning; Karampinos, Dimitrios C; Heimer, Jakob; Schaerli, Sarah; Thali, Michael J; Zoelch, Niklaus (2020). Noninvasive in situ proton MRS in muscle tissue and bone marrow as a novel approach to identify previous freezing in a completely thawed cadaver. NMR in Biomedicine, 33(2):e4220.

Abstract

The temporary or permanent storage of human bodies in freezers following a homicide is a documented method for criminal disposal of human corpses. In these cases, the detection of characteristics which indicate that a thawed cadaver or body part was previously frozen provides crucial information for forensic casework. Previous histological and radiological approaches to detect characteristics of previous freezing are based on the formation of bubble‐like gas patterns, which are difficult to distinguish from common postmortem gas formation in the course of decomposition. The objective of this study was to detect changes in the muscle tissue and in the bone marrow after freezing and thawing by means of in situ proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H‐MRS) to provide a noninvasive approach to detect postfreezing alterations in human cadavers. In this experimental study, the hind legs of seven sheep were used as substitutes for human tissue. One hind leg underwent 1H‐MRS before and daily after storage in a deep freezer (−20°C) and complete thawing at room temperature (study group: n = 7). The opposite hind leg was kept at room temperature and was measured daily (control group: n = 7). Spectra and relaxation times were measured using single voxel measurements in the muscle tissue and in the bone marrow. 1H‐MRS revealed several changes in the muscle tissue and in the bone marrow after freezing and thawing. A strongly reduced peak area ratio (<20) between bulk methylene and olefinic and glycerol methine and a reduced T2 relaxation time for bulk methylene (<45 ms) measured in the bone marrow were found to be indicators that a sheep leg was previously frozen and thawed independent of the postmortem interval. Noninvasive in situ 1H‐MRS in the bone marrow potentially provides a new method for detecting previous freezing or extreme cooling in cadavers.

Abstract

The temporary or permanent storage of human bodies in freezers following a homicide is a documented method for criminal disposal of human corpses. In these cases, the detection of characteristics which indicate that a thawed cadaver or body part was previously frozen provides crucial information for forensic casework. Previous histological and radiological approaches to detect characteristics of previous freezing are based on the formation of bubble‐like gas patterns, which are difficult to distinguish from common postmortem gas formation in the course of decomposition. The objective of this study was to detect changes in the muscle tissue and in the bone marrow after freezing and thawing by means of in situ proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H‐MRS) to provide a noninvasive approach to detect postfreezing alterations in human cadavers. In this experimental study, the hind legs of seven sheep were used as substitutes for human tissue. One hind leg underwent 1H‐MRS before and daily after storage in a deep freezer (−20°C) and complete thawing at room temperature (study group: n = 7). The opposite hind leg was kept at room temperature and was measured daily (control group: n = 7). Spectra and relaxation times were measured using single voxel measurements in the muscle tissue and in the bone marrow. 1H‐MRS revealed several changes in the muscle tissue and in the bone marrow after freezing and thawing. A strongly reduced peak area ratio (<20) between bulk methylene and olefinic and glycerol methine and a reduced T2 relaxation time for bulk methylene (<45 ms) measured in the bone marrow were found to be indicators that a sheep leg was previously frozen and thawed independent of the postmortem interval. Noninvasive in situ 1H‐MRS in the bone marrow potentially provides a new method for detecting previous freezing or extreme cooling in cadavers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:510 Mathematics
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Molecular Medicine
Health Sciences > Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging
Physical Sciences > Spectroscopy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Spectroscopy, Molecular Medicine, Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
Language:English
Date:1 February 2020
Deposited On:16 Dec 2019 11:32
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 21:42
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0952-3480
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/nbm.4220
PubMed ID:31774230

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