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Investigations on the Cellular and Morphologic Characteristics of Cranial Vault Fracture: Research and Development of a Time Since Fracture Protocol and Database

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2021
67 pages

Since a review of current scientific literature found no standards for dating fractures of the cranial vault, the goal of the current research was to determine the cellular and tissue response involved in fracture healing in the human calvarium, which would provide the foundation for further inquiry into osseous repair in the cranium.


The project had three phases. The first phase was to develop a de-identified online database of cranial injuries of known age with decedent information and injury radiographs, photographs, and photomicrographs. The database would provide both a case submission portal and an archive of data and sample images of human calvarial osseous injuries at varying points of healing for the subsequent study objectives. In populating this database, methods for sampling de-calcifying and creating slides of fracture histomorphology were developed. The second phase of the research involved microscopically evaluating the histological environment of cranial injury samples to determine the progression of tissues and cells during osseous repair in the outer table, diploe, and inner table of the cranium. The third and final phase of the research examined the process of fracture repair in the calvarium based upon the presence of tissue and cellular healing characteristics at various times. The database developed is entitled the Repository of Antemortem Injury Response (REPAIR), which is the first comprehensive and visual data of cranial injuries of known ages. The benefits of this database for the forensic community and how to access it are explained. The determination of the histological trajectory of healing in the cranial vault and its characterization through stages is the foundation for the researchers’ continued research to develop an estimation method for time since injury. 24 tables, 19 figures, a 15-item bibliography, and a list of project publications

Date Published: May 1, 2021