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Medical examiners and forensic anthropologists are often faced with the difficult task of removing soft tissue from the human skeleton without damaging the bones, teeth and, in some cases, cartilage. While there are a number of acceptable methods that can be used to remove soft tissue including macerating in water, simmering or boiling, soaking in ammonia, removing with scissors, knife, scalpel or stiff brush, and dermestid beetles, each has its drawback in time, safety, or potential to damage bone. This technical report using the chest plate of a stabbing victim presents a safe and effective alternative method for removing soft tissue from human remains, in particular the chest plate, following autopsy, without damaging or separating the ribs, sternum, and costal cartilage. This method can be used to reveal subtle blunt force trauma to bone, slicing and stabbing injuries, and other forms of trauma obscured by overlying soft tissue. Despite the published cautionary notes, when done properly household bleach (3-6% sodium hypochlorite) is a quick, safe, and effective method for examining cartilage and exposing skeletal trauma by removing soft tissue from human skeletal remains.
Bones, Teeth, Cartilage, Sternum, Soft tissue, Human skeletal