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Surgical Sutures as a Means of Identifying Human Remains

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The Food and Drug Administration does not require surgical sutures to be tracked by manufacturer, physician, or patient; thereby, surgical sutures have been of little use to forensic practitioners who are tasked with establishing a positive identification with biological evidence. This study demonstrates the investigative process used to pinpoint suture manufacturers by presenting a case where surgical sutures were a distinctive characteristic that aided in the positive identification of skeletal remains. The suture’s manufacturer, construction material and structure, size, and medical use was determined by contacting a local surgical suture and orthopedic implant manufacturer and utilizing publicly available manufacturer websites, which provide catalogs and specific product details. This research was one of many lines of evidence used to establish the positive identification of a 47-year-old male.

Keywords: forensic anthropology; forensic science; human skeletal remains; identification; nonabsorbable sutures; surgical sutures

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01215.x

Affiliations: 1: Division of Justice Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. South, Ft. Myers, FL 33965. 2: District 20 Office of the Medical Examiner, 3838 Domestic Avenue, Naples, FL 34104.

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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