Post-mortem computed tomography as part of dental identification – a proposed guideline
This paper presents a proposed guideline for the use of post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) during forensic dental identification. Currently, whole-body PMCT is widely used prior to autopsies for the diagnosis of fractures, organ changes, hemorrhages, and for the localization of foreign bodies, but it may also facilitate the odontological identification process in single cases and in cases involving multiple fatalities. Several studies have described the use of PMCT in forensic odontological work, but we have not found any comprehensive set of guidelines on how to perform a forensic odontological examination using PMCT. The aim was to develop guidelines for creating post-mortem dental charts during forensic odontological identification examinations using the standard functions of PMCT.
A proposed guideline was developed from 15 selected cases examined at the Section of Forensic Pathology, Department of Forensic Medicine at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark from October 2011 to May 2012. Using the functionalities and three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions of OsiriX DICOM-viewer software (Pixmeo Sarl, Bernex, Geneva, Switzerland) we adjusted the contrast and brightness settings and developed a proposed guideline for creating PMCT-based dental charts. A four-step guideline was produced.
In our casework, we are currently using the guidelines proposed herein. The use of PMCT has allowed us to target our clinical examinations, greatly improving their efficiency. Furthermore, PMCT allows the storage of data for later documentation and research. Further research is needed to validate the proposed guideline.
KeywordsForensic science Forensic odontology Post-mortem computed tomography Human identification
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
We have no conflict of interest.
This study was based purely on registry data, and the database has been approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (2011-54-1262). Following Danish legislation, no ethical approval was needed.
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