International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 661–668 | Cite as

Intra vitam trauma pattern: changing the paradigm of forensic anthropology?

  • Sarah Scheirs
  • Britt Hevink
  • Marisa Ortega-Sánchez
  • Xavier Jordana
  • Hannah McGlynn
  • Alfonso Rodriguez-Baeza
  • Assumpció Malgosa
  • Ignasi GaltésEmail author
Original Article


This study aims to improve a previous study that reported new traits to characterize a perimortem fracture pattern in human long bones. This second study aims to acquire further knowledge about these perimortem traits, specifically by improving the experimental setting—by using a Blunt Force Trauma Simulator—and increasing the sample size with a total of 43 autopsy specimens and 57 reproduced fractures. Additionally, we investigated whether these traits could be related to muscular contractions by adding axial compression in the experimentally fractured specimens. If intra vitam traits can be found, it would consequentially be more valuable for forensic anthropologists to shorten the perimortem period. We demonstrate that all traits are perimortem traits. Furthermore, based on our results, we see the tendency that the combination of traits—instead of the presence of each trait individually—may make it possible to distinguish intra vitam from perimortem fractures. This study confirms these distinct characteristics that can be valuable to utilize in the distinction between peri- and postmortem fractures.


Forensic anthropology Bone trauma Time of injury Perimortem trauma Traits 



Special thanks go to the technicians and personnel staff of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Catalonia (IMLCFC) and to the staff of the medical department of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). They thank Vincent Scheirs for the design and construction of the Blunt Force Trauma Simulator.

Funding information

Financial aid was from the research group of Biological Anthropology (GREAB) from project SGR14-1420.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the Ethics Commission of Human and Animal Experimental Work (CEEAH) of the UAB, in compliance with the ethical regulations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Scheirs
    • 1
    • 2
  • Britt Hevink
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marisa Ortega-Sánchez
    • 1
    • 4
  • Xavier Jordana
    • 2
  • Hannah McGlynn
    • 5
  • Alfonso Rodriguez-Baeza
    • 4
  • Assumpció Malgosa
    • 2
  • Ignasi Galtés
    • 1
    • 6
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Forensic Anthropology Unit, Institut de Medicina Legal i Cienciès Forense (IMLCFC)Ciutat de la Justícia, Gran Via de les Corts CatalanesBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Biological Anthropology Unit, Department of Animal Biology, Vegetal Biology and EcologyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and InformaticsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Anatomy and Embriology Unit, Morphological Sciences, Faculty of MedicineAutonomous Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Community Outreach and EngagementThe Achavanich Beaker Burial ProjectEdinburghScotland
  6. 6.Forensic Anthropology Unit, Catalonian Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science (IMLCFC)Ciutat de la Justícia. Gran Via de les Corts CatalanesBarcelonaSpain

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