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Bone mineral density and wounding capacity of handguns: implications for estimation of caliber


Methodologies that improve estimation of caliber from cranial bone defects are necessary to meet the ever increasing admissibility standards. The relationship between caliber, wound diameter, and bone mineral density (BMD) was examined. The formation of the permanent cavity is influenced by bullet yaw, velocity, distance, and tissue properties. The hypothesis was that including BMD, wound diameter could be explained by differences in caliber. The sample consists of 68 autopsy sections and 101 specimens from Phelps (1898). A subsample of 18 was scanned using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) for BMD measurement to test whether an increase in BMD affects wound diameter. Pearson product-moment correlations of the subsample indicate the strongest correlation is between BMD and minimum diameter (r = 0.7101), followed by a correlation between minimum diameter and caliber (r = 0.6854). Despite the previous use of thickness as a proxy for BMD, no correlation was found between BMD and thickness (r = 0.0143). A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) detected a significant influence of BMD and minimum diameter on caliber size (Prob > F = 0.0003). The logistic regression shows that caliber can be estimated from minimum diameter. Using the subsample, the results show that the inclusion of BMD strengthens the model for estimating caliber from entrance gunshot defects.

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Correspondence to Ann H. Ross.

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Paschall, A., Ross, A.H. Bone mineral density and wounding capacity of handguns: implications for estimation of caliber. Int J Legal Med 131, 161–166 (2017).

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