Evaluation of the Suchey-Brooks Method of age estimation in an Australian subpopulation using computed tomography of the pubic symphyseal surface

Lottering, Nicolene, MacGregor, Donna M., Meredith, Matthew, Alston, Clair L., & Gregory, Laura Susan (2013) Evaluation of the Suchey-Brooks Method of age estimation in an Australian subpopulation using computed tomography of the pubic symphyseal surface. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 150(3), pp. 386-399.

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Abstract

Despite the prominent use of the Suchey-Brooks (S-B) method of age estimation in forensic anthropological practice, it is subject to intrinsic limitations, with reports of differential inter-population error rates between geographical locations. This study assessed the accuracy of the S-B method to a contemporary adult population in Queensland, Australia and provides robust age parameters calibrated for our population. Three-dimensional surface reconstructions were generated from computed tomography scans of the pubic symphysis of male and female Caucasian individuals aged 15–70 years (n = 195) in Amira® and Rapidform®. Error was analyzed on the basis of bias, inaccuracy and percentage correct classification for left and right symphyseal surfaces. Application of transition analysis and Chi-square statistics demonstrated 63.9% and 69.7% correct age classification associated with the left symphyseal surface of Australian males and females, respectively, using the S-B method. Using Bayesian statistics, probability density distributions for each S-B phase were calculated, providing refined age parameters for our population. Mean inaccuracies of 6.77 (±2.76) and 8.28 (±4.41) years were reported for the left surfaces of males and females, respectively; with positive biases for younger individuals (<55 years) and negative biases in older individuals. Significant sexual dimorphism in the application of the S-B method was observed; and asymmetry in phase classification of the pubic symphysis was a frequent phenomenon. These results recommend that the S-B method should be applied with caution in medico-legal death investigations of Queensland skeletal remains and warrant further investigation of reliable age estimation techniques.

Impact and interest:

15 citations in Scopus
11 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 55846
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: forensic anthropology, population standards, pubic symphysis, bayesian statistics, Queensland
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22213
ISSN: 0002-9483
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHYSICAL SCIENCES (020000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 John Wiley and Sons
Deposited On: 25 Feb 2013 03:18
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 22:24

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