International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 132, Issue 4, pp 1125–1138 | Cite as

Age estimation by assessment of pulp chamber volume: a Bayesian network for the evaluation of dental evidence

  • Emanuele SironiEmail author
  • Franco Taroni
  • Claudio Baldinotti
  • Cosimo Nardi
  • Gian-Aristide Norelli
  • Matteo Gallidabino
  • Vilma Pinchi
Original Article



The present study aimed to investigate the performance of a Bayesian method in the evaluation of dental age-related evidence collected by means of a geometrical approximation procedure of the pulp chamber volume. Measurement of this volume was based on three-dimensional cone beam computed tomography images.


The Bayesian method was applied by means of a probabilistic graphical model, namely a Bayesian network. Performance of that method was investigated in terms of accuracy and bias of the decisional outcomes. Influence of an informed elicitation of the prior belief of chronological age was also studied by means of a sensitivity analysis.


Outcomes in terms of accuracy were adequate with standard requirements for forensic adult age estimation. Findings also indicated that the Bayesian method does not show a particular tendency towards under- or overestimation of the age variable. Outcomes of the sensitivity analysis showed that results on estimation are improved with a ration elicitation of the prior probabilities of age.


Forensic age estimation Adult age estimation Bayesian approach Bayesian networks Pulp chamber volume narrowing Secondary dentine deposition 



The authors wish to thank Rachel Irlam (King’s College London, UK) for proof-reading the document as well as Lorenzo Gaborini (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) for its valuable contribution in the R Code redaction and all users who tested it. Many acknowledgements are also addressed to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

Funding information

This work has been kindly supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. P2LAP1_164912).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

414_2017_1733_MOESM1_ESM.docx (62 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminal Justice, Building BatochimeUniversity of LausanneLausanne-DorignySwitzerland
  2. 2.Section of Forensic Medical Sciences, Department of Health SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.Radiodiagnostic Unit n. 2, Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  4. 4.Division of Analytical and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life Science & MedicineKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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