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A Histological Analysis of Visceral Organs to Evaluate the Effect of Duration of Heating From Refrigeration to Core Body Temperature for Ballistics Investigations

Humphrey, Caitlin, BHlthSc(Hons); Kumaratilake, Jaliya, PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 4 - p 326–332
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000345
Original Articles

Animal organs have been used in ballistics research to investigate the effects on human organs. Such organs are refrigerated until the investigation to minimize autolytic degradation and at times have been reheated to the human core body temperature to simulate the in situ environment. The aim of this investigation was to study the microstructural changes that may occur in fresh chilled visceral organs of the thorax and abdomen (ie, heart, lung, liver, and kidney) during the period of reheating to 37°C. Fifty-millimeter cubes of porcine heart, lung, liver, and kidney were taken rapidly after slaughter, chilled overnight, and the next morning were reheated to core body temperature (37°C). Histological changes occurring in the tissues during the reheating phase were investigated. The findings indicated that no cytoplasmic or nuclear changes occurred in any of the tissues during the period of reheating. Therefore, reheating of animal organs to the human core body temperature is not necessary, if the organs are refrigerated.

From the Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Research Unit, University of Adelaide, Medical School North, Adelaide, Australia.

Manuscript received May 25, 2017; accepted July 5, 2017.

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Caitlin Humphrey, BHlthSc(Hons), Medical School North, Frome Rd, Adelaide, Australia 5005. E-mail:

© 2017 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.