The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

An independent validation using CT data of two methods to quantify uniqueness in the frontal sinuses for forensic anthropological applications


1Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, 2Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

Identification of unknown individuals is important in forensic cases to notify next of kin and to execute legal matters. Several areas in the skeleton have been proposed to aid in identification, including the frontal sinuses. These structures are considered unique to each individual because of the high degree of observed morphological variation. Due to their location inside the skull, between the inner and outer tables of the frontal bone, visualisation of the frontal sinuses is achieved through radiographic imaging, typically X-Ray or computed tomography (CT). Basic visual comparison, overlaying an antemortem image and a postmortem image to identify a match, has given way to several methods that have attempted to quantify observed morphological variation. Recently, owing to the Daubert ruling, an increased emphasis has been placed on quantification and testing to develop accurate and replicable methods within forensic anthropology. It is therefore crucial that all personal identification methods be tested and validated on independent samples.

This poster presents a comparison of Ribeiro’s method from 2000 and Reichs and Dorion’s method from 1992 for quantifying uniqueness in the frontal sinuses, as tested on an independent postmortem CT data sample. The protocols developed are described and the methodologies are evaluated for their ability to characterize individuality in this sample. Observations of Ribeiro’s measurement method suggest high levels of accuracy and repeatability compared with Reichs and Dorion’s coding system. The results of test cases to identify matches for each technique are presented and recommendations for practical application discussed.

Funded by SSHRC

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