The utilization of incinerated hip and knee prostheses for identification

John William Berketa, Ellie Simpson, Stephen Graves, Grace O’Donohue, Yen Liang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this study was to test various methods of retrieving number data from hip and knee implants from cremated human remains and to validate our findings by cross referencing our results with the national joint replacement registry. Method: Implants were collected from the remains of individuals who had donated their bodies to science following routine planned cremation. A number of different chemical and physical methods to expose the implant numbers on cremated implants to the point that they were legible were tested. The retrieved data on the implants was referred to the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry to identify the individuals, and the names were cross-referenced from the original list of donors. Results: It was possible to retrieve sufficient data from cremated implants to track the name of the recipient of implants if they were placed following the formation of the registry. Both wet and dry paper (1200 size and without moisture), and fine grade steel wool (used in antique restoration), were successful in removing the oxidized layer from implants. With hip implants, it was discovered that the best area to retrieve clear readable information is inside the ball head or at the end of the neck as this area is protected from oxidation during incineration. Conclusion: Incinerated or cremated hip and knee implants may be used to assist in the identification of a decedent following careful treatment, in conjunction with national joint revision registries and company data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-437
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 11 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Forensic identification
  • Hip implants
  • Incineration
  • Knee implants
  • Registry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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