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Application of SEM to the study of red blood cells in forensic bloodstains

Policarp Hortolà

Microscopy and Analysis (United Kingdom Edition), vol. 40, pp. 19/21

Microscopy and Analysis (European Edition), vol. 28, pp. 21/23, 1994


KEYWORDS: Scanning electron microscopy, red blood cells, bloodstains, hemotaphonomy



Although in forensic analysis the presence of red blood cells in a smear is considered to be a confirmation of blood, to date morphological researches using electron microscopy dealing with superficial preservation or imprints characterisation of erythrocytes in bloodstains have not been carried out.  Short-time preservation of specimens is a "sine qua non" precondition to bioarchaeological or palaeobiological preservation. So a part of author’s researches on ancient blood residues has been focused on developing a methodology to study forensic suspected bloodstains – considering as 'forensic'  all modern blood smears of unknown origin– covering substrates from hard to (absorbent) soft ones. In this article dealing with 'urban' forensic hemotaphonomy, field and scanning electron microscopy procedures, as well as showing examples of achieved results on either soft (paper handkerchief) and hard (urban asphalt on a crossing-walk) smear substrates are reported.