The iliac crest in forensic age estimation: evaluation of three methods in pelvis X-rays.

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The iliac crest in forensic age estimation: evaluation of three methods in pelvis X-rays.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 Jun 20;:

Authors: Bartolini V, Pinchi V, Gualco B, Vanin S, Chiaracane G, D’Elia G, Norelli GA, Focardi M

Abstract
Age assessment in children and young adults is a relevant forensic issue. It is requested not only in evaluating criminal responsibility in youths without proper identification documents, often in relation to age thresholds, but also for release of a residency permit, and asylum seekers of minors. The analysis of the Risser sign and the iliac crest ossification process has been proposed as a useful tool for forensic age estimation. We evaluated the applicability of three different age estimation methods on a sample of 497 pelvic radiographs of Italian individuals between 10 and 25 years of age. Each method showed high reliability for both reproducibility and repeatability. The staging technique inspired by Kreitner and Kellinghaus methods (KK-MS) is easier than the Risser method in applicability, as it is not affected by the variations of ossification. We observed that all subjects who attained stage 3c of KK-MS and 5 of Risser Fr were >14 years, suggesting the benefits of these methods for that age threshold. The applicability of the area measurement method, inspired by Cameriere’s approach, ranged between 12 and 20 years, but the statistical analysis showed only a moderate correlation with age. In order to evaluate the possible use of this approach it is therefore necessary to clarify and exclude external factors influencing the parameter. In conclusion, the iliac crest ossification is of interest in age estimation for forensic purposes. The evaluation of the pelvis X-ray, in addition to the other common dental and skeletal methods, could become a useful supplementary tool in age estimation for the 14 year threshold in order to fulfill forensic-level requirements.

PMID: 28634678 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

A comparison between decomposition rates of buried and surface remains in a temperate region of South Africa.

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A comparison between decomposition rates of buried and surface remains in a temperate region of South Africa.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 Jun 12;:

Authors: Marais-Werner A, Myburgh J, Becker PJ, Steyn M

Abstract
Several studies have been conducted on decomposition patterns and rates of surface remains; however, much less are known about this process for buried remains. Understanding the process of decomposition in buried remains is extremely important and aids in criminal investigations, especially when attempting to estimate the post mortem interval (PMI). The aim of this study was to compare the rates of decomposition between buried and surface remains. For this purpose, 25 pigs (Sus scrofa; 45-80 kg) were buried and excavated at different post mortem intervals (7, 14, 33, 92, and 183 days). The observed total body scores were then compared to those of surface remains decomposing at the same location. Stages of decomposition were scored according to separate categories for different anatomical regions based on standardised methods. Variation in the degree of decomposition was considerable especially with the buried 7-day interval pigs that displayed different degrees of discolouration in the lower abdomen and trunk. At 14 and 33 days, buried pigs displayed features commonly associated with the early stages of decomposition, but with less variation. A state of advanced decomposition was reached where little change was observed in the next ±90-183 days after interment. Although the patterns of decomposition for buried and surface remains were very similar, the rates differed considerably. Based on the observations made in this study, guidelines for the estimation of PMI are proposed. This pertains to buried remains found at a depth of approximately 0.75 m in the Central Highveld of South Africa.

PMID: 28608144 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Age estimation during the blow fly intra-puparial period: a qualitative and quantitative approach using micro-computed tomography.

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Age estimation during the blow fly intra-puparial period: a qualitative and quantitative approach using micro-computed tomography.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 May 04;:

Authors: Martín-Vega D, Simonsen TJ, Wicklein M, Hall MJR

Abstract
Minimum post-mortem interval (minPMI) estimates often rely on the use of developmental data from blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae), which are generally the first colonisers of cadavers and, therefore, exemplar forensic indicators. Developmental data of the intra-puparial period are of particular importance, as it can account for more than half of the developmental duration of the blow fly life cycle. During this period, the insect undergoes metamorphosis inside the opaque, barrel-shaped puparium, formed by the hardening and darkening of the third instar larval cuticle, which shows virtually no external changes until adult emergence. Regrettably, estimates based on the intra-puparial period are severely limited due to the lack of reliable, non-destructive ageing methods and are frequently based solely on qualitative developmental markers. In this study, we use non-destructive micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) for (i) performing qualitative and quantitative analyses of the morphological changes taking place during the intra-puparial period of two forensically relevant blow fly species, Calliphora vicina and Lucilia sericata, and (ii) developing a novel and reliable method for estimating insect age in forensic practice. We show that micro-CT provides age-diagnostic qualitative characters for most 10% time intervals of the total intra-puparial period, which can be used over a range of temperatures and with a resolution comparable to more invasive and time-consuming traditional imaging techniques. Moreover, micro-CT can be used to yield a quantitative measure of the development of selected organ systems to be used in combination with qualitative markers. Our results confirm micro-CT as an emerging, powerful tool in medico-legal investigations.

PMID: 28474172 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Estimation of stature from femur length measured using computed tomography after the analysis of three-dimensional characteristics of femur bone in Korean cadavers.

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Estimation of stature from femur length measured using computed tomography after the analysis of three-dimensional characteristics of femur bone in Korean cadavers.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 Feb 20;:

Authors: Lee S, Gong HH, Hyun JY, Koo HN, Lee HY, Chung NE, Choi YS, Yang KM, Choi BH

Abstract
Estimation of stature is a basic and important forensic procedure in identifying decomposed or skeletonized bodies. Due to advances in radiologic equipment, forensic science frequently uses computed tomography (CT) and software to apply these findings to investigations. Technical developments have increased the accuracy of the measurement of various bones. However, there are still some inaccuracies, such as defining correct landmarks in three-dimensional (3D) images. Femur length is frequently used for calculation of stature, but because it is a 3D structure, the digital image may not always correlate with the femur length measured with an osteometric board. However, more studies are now showing that the maximum femur length calculated in 3D imagery is comparable to the maximum femur length calculated using an osteometric board. This study used digitalized data of the femur obtained from the CT image through the specialized software. The digitalized femur images were put on the virtual osteometric board, which helped us to understand the anatomic characteristics of the femur and to confirm that the maximum femur lengths calculated in 3D images are similar to the results obtained using an osteometric board. These data were used to obtain a stature estimation formula for the Korean population.

PMID: 28220303 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Influence of immunologic status on age prediction using signal joint T cell receptor excision circles.

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Influence of immunologic status on age prediction using signal joint T cell receptor excision circles.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 Feb 01;:

Authors: Cho S, Seo HJ, Lee JH, Kim MY, Lee SD

Abstract
Age estimation based on quantifying signal joint T cell receptor excision circle (sjTREC) in T cells has been established to be a promising approach in forensic practice and demonstrated in different ethnic groups. Considering that the homeostasis of T cells carrying sjTRECs is closely related to the immunologic status of a person, it is important to investigate the influence of various immunologic statuses on the age estimation model. In this study, quantification of sjTREC contents was performed for groups of people with various immune system statuses, and the result showed less correlation with chronological age (r (2) = 0.424) than in the healthy group (r (2) = 0.648). The simulation model indicated that this influence could increase the range of prediction in the age estimation model, and the mean absolute deviation (MAD) between chronological age and predicted age. Through this study, it was demonstrated that immunologic status is a factor that affects the accuracy of age prediction using sjTREC quantification.

PMID: 28144748 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Luminol chemiluminescence: contribution to postmortem interval determination of skeletonized remains in Portuguese forensic context.

Luminol chemiluminescence: contribution to postmortem interval determination of skeletonized remains in Portuguese forensic context.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 Jan 30;:

Authors: Ermida C, Navega D, Cunha E

Abstract
Postmortem interval (PMI) determination is one of the main challenges of forensic anthropology, and there are several referenced methods that consider intrinsic and extrinsic factors to the skeletonized remains. Therefore, there is an important need to develop a precise, economic, easy and reproducible technique, which will operate as a presumptive test. The chemical reaction that occurs in the presence of luminol, chemiluminescence, is used as a work tool to evaluate the PMI. This is given by luminol high affinity for haemoglobin, which is secured in bone tissue by its high mineral content, after the blood supply ceases postmortem. We evaluated a luminol-based technique, in which we measured the chemiluminescence of skeletonized remains as an indicator of the PMI. We assessed the usage of this technique for PMI estimation and for deciding whether remains have forensic interest, particularly in the Portuguese medicolegal context. Additionally, we evaluate the reproducibility of this technique. The test sample consists of 50 skeletonized individuals of both sexes, adults, between 20 and 98 years, with a known time since death and without bone pathologies. The results of Kappa statistic, with values between 0.79 and 0.97, showed high interobserver and intraobserver agreement when applying the luminol test as a presumption test. We concluded that this technique alone is not precise and of limited value to determine forensic relevance in the Portuguese context. However, it can be used as a presumptive test, reducing time and costs in criminal investigation.

PMID: 28138758 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

A general approach for postmortem interval based on uniformly distributed and interconnected qualitative indicators.

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A general approach for postmortem interval based on uniformly distributed and interconnected qualitative indicators.

Int J Legal Med. 2017 Jan 04;:

Authors: Matuszewski S

Abstract
There are many qualitative indicators for postmortem interval (PMI) of human or animal cadavers. When such indicators are uniformly spaced over PMI, the resultant distribution may be very useful for the estimation of PMI. Existing methods of estimation rely on indicator persistence time that is, however, difficult to estimate because of its dependence on many interacting factors, of which forensic scientists are usually unaware in casework. In this article, an approach is developed for the estimation of PMI from qualitative markers in which indicator persistence time is not used. The method involves the estimation of an interval preceding appearance of a marker on cadaver called the pre-appearance interval (PAI). PMI is delineated by PAI for two consecutive markers: the one being recorded on the cadaver (defining lower PMI) and the other that is next along the PMI timeline but yet absent on the cadaver (defining upper PMI). The approach was calibrated for use with subsequent life stages of carrion insects and tested using results of pig cadaver experiments. Results demonstrate that the presence and absence of the subsequent developmental stages of carrion insects, coupled with the estimation of their PAI, gives a reliable and easily accessible knowledge of PMI in a forensic context.

PMID: 28054103 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Technical note: early post-mortem changes of human bone in taphonomy with μCT.

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Technical note: early post-mortem changes of human bone in taphonomy with μCT.

Int J Legal Med. 2016 Dec 29;:

Authors: Garff EL, Mesli V, Delannoy Y, Colard T, Demondion X, Becart A, Hedouin V

Abstract
Post-mortem interval (PMI) estimation is an important issue in forensic medicine, particularly for criminal purposes and legal limitation periods. The goal of the present study is to examine the evolution of the trabecular cranial vault bone after 4 weeks of conservation in a controlled environment with micro-tomography (μCT) analyses.Four bone samples were extracted from a fresh human cranial vault (a donation to science according to the French law) and conserved in an air-controlled environment. The samples were weighed and μCT scanned at a 10-μm resolution every week after death for a month. The μCT features were identical for every sample. Each set of data from the μCTs was reconstructed, registered, and analyzed in terms of the total volume, bone volume, bone surface, number of trabeculae, trabeculae thickness, and mean distance of the trabeculae. The samples were conserved in a glass box in 20 °C air with 60% humidity in a laboratory hood between each μCT acquisition. Descriptive statistics were determined. Each sample was observed and compared to itself over time.After 1 month of conservation, the mean bone volume (-1.9%), bone surface (-5.1%), and trabecular number (-12.35%) decreased, whereas the mean trabecular separation (+5.55%) and trabecular thickness (+12.7%) increased. Many variations (i.e., increases and decreases) were observed between the extraction of the sample and the end of the 4 weeks of conservation. The present observations may be explained by bone diagenesis. Previous observations have indicated that protein and lipid losses occur with bone weight and volume losses. These diagenesis effects may explain the trabecular modifications observed in the present work. We observed many bone variations with the μCT scans between the beginning and the end of the conservation that had no explanations. Additional studies, particularly studies involving statistics, need to be performed to confirm our observations and explain these results more clearly.

PMID: 28035474 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Technical note: unsafe rectal temperature measurements due to delayed warming of the thermocouple by using a condom. An issue concerning the estimation of the postmortem interval by using Henßge’s nomogram.

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Technical note: unsafe rectal temperature measurements due to delayed warming of the thermocouple by using a condom. An issue concerning the estimation of the postmortem interval by using Henßge’s nomogram.

Int J Legal Med. 2016 Mar;130(2):447-56

Authors: Krap T, Meurs J, Boertjes J, Duijst W

Abstract
In some cases, in the Netherlands, an additional layer is being added to the thermocouple, used to measure the rectal temperature in medicolegal death investigations. Because of this deviation from the standard method, questions arose regarding the accuracy and precision of the measured temperature. Therefore, a cooling experiment was carried out on a round body made of agar with an average thermal conductivity of 0.454 W/(m °C) while measuring the temperature with and without an additional layer around the thermocouple for three different starting temperatures: 36, 30, and 27 °C. The results show a significant difference between the measured values for the first 5 min when comparing with and without the additional layer. Further, a decrease in precision is present within the first minutes when using an additional layer. Therefore, it is concluded that it is best to measure the rectal temperature without an additional layer around the thermocouple and caution should be taken when measuring with an additional layer.

PMID: 25972304 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Probabilistic graphical models to deal with age estimation of living persons.

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Probabilistic graphical models to deal with age estimation of living persons.

Int J Legal Med. 2016 Mar;130(2):475-88

Authors: Sironi E, Gallidabino M, Weyermann C, Taroni F

Abstract
Due to the rise of criminal, civil and administrative judicial situations involving people lacking valid identity documents, age estimation of living persons has become an important operational procedure for numerous forensic and medicolegal services worldwide. The chronological age of a given person is generally estimated from the observed degree of maturity of some selected physical attributes by means of statistical methods. However, their application in the forensic framework suffers from some conceptual and practical drawbacks, as recently claimed in the specialised literature. The aim of this paper is therefore to offer an alternative solution for overcoming these limits, by reiterating the utility of a probabilistic Bayesian approach for age estimation. This approach allows one to deal in a transparent way with the uncertainty surrounding the age estimation process and to produce all the relevant information in the form of posterior probability distribution about the chronological age of the person under investigation. Furthermore, this probability distribution can also be used for evaluating in a coherent way the possibility that the examined individual is younger or older than a given legal age threshold having a particular legal interest. The main novelty introduced by this work is the development of a probabilistic graphical model, i.e. a Bayesian network, for dealing with the problem at hand. The use of this kind of probabilistic tool can significantly facilitate the application of the proposed methodology: examples are presented based on data related to the ossification status of the medial clavicular epiphysis. The reliability and the advantages of this probabilistic tool are presented and discussed.

PMID: 25794687 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]