Distribution of bone injuries in cases of non-natural death: A retrospective, encompassing study from 2008 to 2017

Daniela Teifel, Markus Rothschild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For this study all autopsy reports of non-natural deaths performed at the Institute of Legal Medicine at the University of Cologne from a 10-year period (2008–2017) were examined in regards to the manner of non-natural death and their frequency and distribution of bone injuries (BI). 2026 cases (220 homicides, 421 suicides, 760 accidents, 393 possible suicides, 232 possible accidents) were reviewed. The highest frequency of BI was registered within homicides with 89.1%, second being accidents (79.3%), while suicides and poss. suicides were at 53.4% and 43.3%. Gunshots/explosions split between 52% for suicides and 33.6% for homicides, sharp force was to 56% found within homicides and with 29.8% in suicides. 63.7% of all blunt force was found in the accident category. The highest participation of BI and injuries across all body regions was found with gunshot homicides (100% BI, over every region). Intoxication showed the lowest BI over all with only 19.9% of all cases. Albeit several distinctive patterns were found, e.g. distinction between gunshots in suicides and homicides or high amount of BI in decayed corpses in homicides, a close examination on case by case basis, utilizing the forensic toolkit to its fullest, should always be attempted when examining decomposed or skeletal remains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-358
Number of pages8
JournalForensic Science International
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Accident
  • Bone injury
  • Fracture distribution
  • Homicide
  • Non-natural death
  • Suicide


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