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Ossification of Laryngeal Structures as Indicators of Age

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As the role of forensic anthropologists expands to the medical examiner setting, their expertise is being applied beyond the traditional dry skeletal material. In such scenarios radiographic techniques can be applied when maceration is not appropriate. This study explores the use of radiographic analysis of laryngeal structures for age-at-death determination. Isolated human laryngeal structures (n = 104) from individuals between the ages of 15 and 89 were removed at autopsy and radiographically examined. The cricoid and individual regions of the thyroid cartilage were scored according to degree of ossification, and the relationship between age and degree of ossification statistically examined. A previously published study on age-determination from thyroid ossification by ČernĂ½ was assessed for accuracy. The results of the study indicate that although a consistent sequence in the ossification of laryngeal structures exists, variations in timing does not permit narrow age range estimates. Consequently the method presented by ČernĂ½ is inaccurate and should not be used in the forensic setting.
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Keywords: age determination; cartilage ossification; forensic anthropology; forensic science; hyoid bone; thyroid cartilage

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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