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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787


MELKI, João Arnaldo Damião; MARTIN, Carmen Cinira Santos  and  SIMOES, Aguinaldo Luiz. Exhumations procedures for investigating the genetic link in bones. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2001, vol.35, n.4, pp.368-374. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVE: To identify technical problems in exhumations performed for DNA detection in bones and to propose solutions through a protocol. METHODS: A prospective and qualitative study of exhumations was carried out according to the methods proposed in the medical legal literature. From 1995 to 1998, were performed 10 exhumations to collect human remains for DNA extraction. Of them, seven cases were of civil interest and three of criminal. Alternatives were sought to overcome technical difficulties found during the execution of these procedures. RESULTS: For all cases, there was scarcity of useful information to identify the human remains. In half of them, identification was based on the individual's morphological characteristics, given by their relatives. Individual morphological characteristics contributed to identification in 50% of cases. In three cases, it was possible to determine only the sex, and in one of them, only the age. Lack of infrastructure and police security in the cemeteries impaired the examination. CONCLUSIONS: To assure the reliability of the DNA molecular examination, it is necessary to identify the individual to whom the exhumed mortal remains belonged. To an efficacious investigation, it is paramount to have a working protocol that will cover, among other issues, those concerning identification, infrastructure and staff safety at the site of examination.

Keywords : Forensic medicine; DNA; Forensic anthropology; Exhumation; Protocol.

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