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Post-mortem computed tomography and 3D imaging: anthropological applications for juvenile remains


Anthropological examination of defleshed bones is routinely used in medico-legal investigations to establish an individual’s biological profile. However, when dealing with the recently deceased, the removal of soft tissue from bone can be an extremely time consuming procedure that requires the presence of a trained anthropologist. In addition, due to its invasive nature, in some disaster victim identification scenarios the maceration of bones is discouraged by religious practices and beliefs, or even prohibited by national laws and regulations. Currently, three different radiological techniques may be used in the investigative process; plain X-ray, dental X-ray and fluoroscopy. However, recent advances in multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) mean that it is now possible to acquire morphological skeletal information from high resolution images, reducing the necessity for invasive procedures. This review paper considers the possible applications of a virtual anthropological examination by reviewing the main juvenile age determination methods used by anthropologists at present and their possible adaption to MDCT.

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We wish to acknowledge Dr C. Adams (odontology) and Mr P. Webster (imaging) who are members of the Developing Human Research Group but whose areas of expertise did not encroach onto this section of the project.

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Correspondence to Alison L. Brough.

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Brough, A.L., Rutty, G.N., Black, S. et al. Post-mortem computed tomography and 3D imaging: anthropological applications for juvenile remains. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 8, 270–279 (2012).

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  • Forensic
  • Anthropology
  • Multi-detector computed-tomography
  • Virtual
  • Imaging