Introducing standardized protocols for anthropological measurement of virtual subadult crania using computed tomography

Lottering, Nicolene, MacGregor, Donna M., Barry, Mark D., Reynolds, Mikaela S., & Gregory, Laura S. (2014) Introducing standardized protocols for anthropological measurement of virtual subadult crania using computed tomography. Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging, 2(1), pp. 34-38.

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This study introduces and assesses the precision of a standardized protocol for anthropometric measurement of the juvenile cranium using three-dimensional surface rendered models, for implementation in forensic investigation or paleodemographic research.

Materials and methods

A subset of multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT) DICOM datasets (n=10) of modern Australian subadults (birth—10 years) was accessed from the “Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Virtual Osteological Database” (n>1200), obtained from retrospective clinical scans taken at Brisbane children hospitals (2009–2013). The capabilities of Geomagic Design X™ form the basis of this study; introducing standardized protocols using triangle surface mesh models to (i) ascertain linear dimensions using reference plane networks and (ii) calculate the area of complex regions of interest on the cranium.


The protocols described in this paper demonstrate high levels of repeatability between five observers of varying anatomical expertise and software experience. Intra- and inter-observer error was indiscernible with total technical error of measurement (TEM) values ≤0.56 mm, constituting <0.33% relative error (rTEM) for linear measurements; and a TEM value of ≤12.89 mm2, equating to <1.18% (rTEM) of the total area of the anterior fontanelle and contiguous sutures.


Exploiting the advances of MSCT in routine clinical assessment, this paper assesses the application of this virtual approach to acquire highly reproducible morphometric data in a non-invasive manner for human identification and population studies in growth and development. The protocols and precision testing presented are imperative for the advancement of “virtual anthropology” into routine Australian medico-legal death investigation.

Impact and interest:

7 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 65520
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Forensic Anthropology, Craniometrics, Multi-slice Computed Tomography, Pediatrics, Australia
DOI: 10.1016/j.jofri.2013.11.005
ISSN: 2212-4780
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PAEDIATRICS AND REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE (111400) > Paediatrics (111403)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Biomedical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Research Centres > High Performance Computing and Research Support
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging, [VOL 2, ISSUE 1, (2014)] DOI: 10.1016/j.jofri.2013.11.005
Deposited On: 20 Dec 2013 04:43
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2014 01:18

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