A Methodology for Extracting Bone Marrow from Cadavers
Abstract: The current estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) relies on insect succession, state of decomposition, and the external microbiome. Therefore, PMI is influenced by external environmental conditions, such as climate and scavenger activity. However, the marrow cavity of skeletal elements is protected from the external environment and may be used to determine a more accurate estimate of PMI. As no published methodology exists for the extraction of marrow from human cadavers over extended periods, this study aimed to develop effective and consistent practices for marrow extraction. Three human cadavers were placed at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science facility (STAFS) at Sam Houston State University. Prior to sampling, experimental protocol was established. However, changes were made to accommodate accessibility of the marrow cavity, weather conditions, insect activity, state of decomposition, and marrow content of the left and right femur, humerus, and pelvis. The resulting extraction procedure involved the use of medical-grade bone marrow biopsy tools and culture swabs in combination with a power drill to collect samples from each cadaver. Each sampling location was cleansed with alcohol wipes prior to extraction and sealed with glue after sample collection. Samples were collected over a six-month period, starting May of 2016. Bone marrow was present in the femur, pelvis, and humerus of each cadaver throughout and upon completion of the project.