A Simplified Protocol for the Histological Preparation of Cortical Bone Samples for Light Microscopy: A Revision of Garcia-Donas et al. (2017)

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Ariane Maggio
Ambika Flavel
Daniel Franklin


Histological analyses of bone can be a useful tool in a forensic assessment, particularly for species determination and age estimation. In order to perform these analyses, however, it is necessary to produce high-quality thin sections for light microscopy. There is a general lack of consensus as to the most appropriate method(s) for the production of cortical bone thin sections, resulting in multiple protocols in the published literature, each associated with varying steps and equipment. We present here a simplified protocol for the histological preparation of cortical bone samples that represents a revision of Garcia-Donas et al. (2017). The protocol was tested on a mixed sample of 17 femora (10 formalin fixed, 5 fresh macerated, and 2 dry archaeological specimens). Good-quality thin-section images at 100× and 200× magnification are produced for each sample type. Using this protocol it is possible to prepare good-quality histological sections of cortical bone for a forensic analysis setting using relatively inexpensive equipment and materials.

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