Evaluation of the Suchey-Brooks method for aging Australian Caucasian Populations using multislice Computed Tomography reconstructions of the Pubic Symphyseal Surface

Lottering, Nicolene, MacGregor, Donna M., Meredith, Matthew, & Gregory, Laura S. (2011) Evaluation of the Suchey-Brooks method for aging Australian Caucasian Populations using multislice Computed Tomography reconstructions of the Pubic Symphyseal Surface. Osteoporosis International, 22(4 ), S643-S644.

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Establishing age-at-death for skeletal remains is a vital component of forensic anthropology. The Suchey-Brooks (S-B) method of age estimation has been widely utilised since 1986 and relies on a visual assessment of the pubic symphyseal surface in comparison to a series of casts. Inter-population studies (Kimmerle et al., 2005; Djuric et al., 2007; Sakaue, 2006) demonstrate limitations of the S-B method, however, no assessment of this technique specific to Australian populations has been published.

Aim: This investigation assessed the accuracy and applicability of the S-B method to an adult Australian Caucasian population by highlighting error rates associated with this technique.

Methods: Computed tomography (CT) and contact scans of the S-B casts were performed; each geometrically modelled surface was extracted and quantified for reference purposes. A Queensland skeletal database for Caucasian remains aged 15 – 70 years was initiated at the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services – Forensic Pathology Mortuary (n=350). Three-dimensional reconstruction of the bone surface using innovative volume visualisation protocols in Amira® and Rapidform® platforms was performed. Samples were allocated into 11 sub-sets of 5-year age intervals and changes associated with the surface geometry were quantified in relation to age, gender and asymmetry.

Results: Preliminary results indicate that computational analysis was successfully applied to model morphological surface changes. Significant differences in observed versus actual ages were noted. Furthermore, initial morphological assessment demonstrates significant bilateral asymmetry of the pubic symphysis, which is unaccounted for in the S-B method. These results propose refinements to the S-B method, when applied to Australian casework.

Conclusion: This investigation promises to transform anthropological analysis to be more quantitative and less invasive using CT imaging. The overarching goal contributes to improving skeletal identification and medico-legal death investigation in the coronial process by narrowing the range of age-at-death estimation in a biological profile.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 62081
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: IOF Regionals, 2nd Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis and Bone Meeting, ANZBMS Annual Scientific Meeting, with JSBMR, 4-8 September, Gold Coast Australia
Keywords: Pubic Symphysis, Morphometrics, Age Estimation, Computed Tomography, Australia
DOI: 10.1007/s00198-011-1717-8
ISSN: 0937-941X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OTHER MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (119900) > Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified (119999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Biomedical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Springer-Verlag
Copyright Statement: The final publication is available at link.springer.com
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2013 23:11
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2013 09:13

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