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Validation of a post-mortem computed tomography method for age estimation based on the 4th rib in a French population

Abstract

Age estimation is a key factor for identification procedure in forensic context. Based on anthropological findings, degenerative changes of the sternal extremity of the 4th rib are currently used for age estimation. These have been adapted to post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT). The aim of this study was to validate a post-mortem computed tomography method based on a revision of the Iscan’s method on a French sample. A total of 250 PMCT (aged from 18–98 years (IQR 36–68 years, median 51 years); 68 (27%) females) from the Medicolegal Institute of Paris (MLIP) were analyzed by two radiologists. The sternal extremity of 4th right rib was scored using method adapted from Iscan et al. Weighted κ was used to evaluate intra- and inter-observer reliability and Spearman correlation was performed to evaluate relationship between age and score. Confidence intervals for individual prediction of age based on 4th rib score and sex were computed with bootstrapping. The intra-observer reliability and inter-observer reliability were almost perfect (weighted κ = 0.85 [95%CI: 0.78–0.93] and 0.82 [95%CI 0.70–0.96] respectively). We confirmed a high correlation between the 4th rib score and subject age (rho = 0.72, p < 0.001), although the confidence intervals for individual age prediction were large, spanning over several decades. This study confirms the high reliability of Iscan method applied to PMCT for age estimation, although future multimodal age prediction techniques may help reducing the span of confidence intervals for individual age estimation.

Trial registration: INDS 0,509,211,020, October 2020, retrospectively registered.

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Correspondence to Joseph Benzakoun.

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In accordance with French legislation, the study was registered and the absence of subject opposition was verified. As this study implied retrospective analysis of routinely acquired data, formal approval by Ethics Committee was not required.

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Richard, ME., Delabarde, T., Hmeydia, G. et al. Validation of a post-mortem computed tomography method for age estimation based on the 4th rib in a French population. Int J Legal Med 136, 833–839 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-022-02798-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-022-02798-x

Keywords

  • Age estimation
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Computed tomography
  • Sternal rib