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Digital UV/IR Photography for Tattoo Evaluation in Mummified Remains*

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Abstract:  The presence and location of tattoos can be an important component in the identification of remains in the extended postmortem period if remnants of skin persist. However, when there is significant mummification, visualization of tattoos can be problematic. Multiple methods have been proposed to make tattoos more visible, but all have limitation. In this case report, a mummified body was discovered. The presumptive victim was reported to have a small tattoo on her hand but it was not visible to the naked eye. The hand was photographed using ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. A tattoo matching the description was noted in the photographs. In contrast to film‐based IR and UV photography, digital UV and IR photography allows rapid visual evaluation of results and optimization of image utility. The ability to quickly modify photographic parameters quickly greatly increases the utility of IR and UV photography in the autopsy suite.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Division of Autopsy and Forensic Services, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, 7S10 Brody Medical Sciences Building, Greenville, NC 27858.

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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