Medical appliances and how they can help human identification

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Medical appliance can help provide information for the identification of human remains. There is a wide range of these appliances being used every day and under the United States Safe Medical Devices Act the implants can be traced through their registration at the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services. The medical appliances contain a manufacturer’s stamp and serial number linking them to a specific procedure and patient. The Act came into effect in 1993, so implants used after this date are the most easily traceable.

The most clearly identifiable and traceable medical appliances are orthopaedic implants as for example used in the hip or the knee of a patient. Surgical implants (pins and screws) are often present, but tend to be untraceable.

One other type of implant which is being used more frequently these days is the heart implants. Based on the well administrated use of pace makers, artificial heart valves and even small stents in a vessel, these appliances can help provide highly specific forensic clues on a person’s identity.

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