Contribution of magnetic resonance imaging of the wrist and hand to forensic age assessment
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Forensic age estimation of living individuals is a controversial subject because of the imprecision of the available methods which leads to errors. Moreover, young persons are exposed to radiation, without diagnostic or therapeutic advantage. Recently, non-invasive imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been studied in this context. The aim of this work was to study if the analysis of wrist/hand MRI enabled determination of whether a subject was 18 years old. Two observers retrospectively analyzed metaphyseal–epiphyseal fusion of the distal epiphysis of the radius and the ulna and the base of the first metacarpus in wrist/hand MRI of living people between 9 and 25 years of age. A three-stage scoring system was applied to all epiphyses. Intra- and inter-observer variability was excellent. Staging of the distal radial epiphysis allowed the subjects to be correctly evaluated with regard to the 18-year-old threshold in more than 85 % of cases. Analysis of the radius alone was as good as the analysis of the three epiphyses together. Evaluation of the metaphyseal–epiphyseal fusion of the distal radius in wrist MRI gave good results in forensic age estimation. Wrist MRI could meet ethical expectations with regard to the link between the benefit and risk of practicing radiologic examination on individuals in this context.
KeywordsAge estimation Wrist Magnetic resonance imaging Bayesian predictive probabilities Forensic anthropology
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