With increasing frequency the art of tattooing is permeating Western culture. In the United States, this rise in popularity has been accompanied by the adoption of more personalized and intricate designs; hence tattoos are becoming increasingly useful as tools for personal identification in medicolegal settings. Although pathological examinations indicate tattoos become more distinct given removal, or slippage, of the epidermal layer and/or following saturation with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, information on the degenerative change of tattoos during the postmortem interval has not been presented. This technical note provides an assessment of tattoo enhancement methods and presents a new method to enable better recognition of tattoos during the postmortem interval. Our results indicate certain tattoos remain visible and identifiable given extensive soft tissue decomposition. The use of an alternative light source proved most useful in illuminating tattoo inks throughout decomposition.
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