An innovative 3D-3D superimposition for assessing anatomical uniqueness of frontal sinuses through segmentation on CT scans


Anatomical uniqueness plays a significant role in the personal identification process of unknown deceased. Frontal sinuses have been widely used in the past decades for this purpose, mostly using 2D X-ray techniques. However, the modern 3D CT-based segmentation methods may help in developing novel and more reliable methods of identification. This study aims at assessing the anatomical uniqueness of frontal sinuses through the 3D model registration. Thirty subjects who underwent two maxillofacial CT scans (interval: 1 month to 5 years) were selected from a hospital database. Frontal sinuses were automatically segmented through ITK-SNAP open source software and the 3D models belonging to the same patient were automatically superimposed according to the least point-to-point difference between the two surfaces. Two hundred patients were randomly selected from the same database and undergo the same procedure to perform 200 superimpositions of frontal sinuses belonging to different individuals, equally divided between males and females (mismatches). Statistically significant differences of average root mean square (RMS) point-to-point distance between the group of matches and mismatches, as well as possible differences according to sex, were assessed through Mann-Whitney U test (p < 0.05). In the group of matches, RMS ranged between 0.07 and 0.96 mm (mean RMS 0.35 ± 0.23 mm), while in the group of mismatches, it ranged between 0.96 and 10.29 mm (mean RMS 2.59 ± 1.79 mm), with a statistically significant difference (p < 0.0001). Neither the matches nor the mismatches group showed statistically significant differences according to sex. This study proposes a novel 3D approach for the assessment of anatomical uniqueness of frontal sinuses, providing both morphological and quantitative analysis, and a new method of identification based on 3D assessment of frontal sinuses, applicable when ante-mortem CT scans are available.

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Correspondence to Daniele Gibelli.

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Gibelli, D., Cellina, M., Cappella, A. et al. An innovative 3D-3D superimposition for assessing anatomical uniqueness of frontal sinuses through segmentation on CT scans. Int J Legal Med 133, 1159–1165 (2019).

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  • Personal identification
  • Frontal sinuses
  • 3D segmentation
  • CT scan
  • Volumetric analysis