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Identification from Chest X-Rays: Reliability of Bone Density Patterns of the Humerus

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A critical review of Kahana and Hiss’ study on identification from bone trabecular pattern and a test of their method conducted on the humerus are presented. Bone trabecular pattern was studied through the generation of a numerical file representing the gray scale. Using the correlation coefficient, several pairwise comparisons between numerical files were performed. The test gave nearly 30% of incorrect exclusions (the method did not recognize couples of radiographs belonging to the same subject) and 50% of misidentifications (the method recognized couples of radiographs belonging to different subjects, as belonging to the same subject); therefore, this research shows that at the present time, it is not possible to safely quantify identification through bone density patterns, of the proximal humerus taken from thoracic X-rays. Thus, an “easy”—but dangerous—use of trabecular density patterns on this specific type of radiogram as an identification method should be currently avoided.
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Keywords: forensic anthropology; forensic radiology; forensic science; human identification; humerus; quantification; thoracic radiograph; trabecular bone pattern

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Labanof, Istituto di Medicina Legale, University of Milan, Via Mangiagalli 37, 20133 Milano, Italy. 2: Centre for Molecular Bioinformatics, Department of Biology, University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Rome, Italy. 3: Istituto di Medicina Legale, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Via Montpellier 1, 00133 Rome, Italy. 4: Institute of Radiological Sciences, University of Milan, and S. Paolo Hospital, via Di Rudini 8, Milan, Italy.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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