Digital imaging software can aid forensic IDs

Computer-aided dental identification software can be a useful tool in forensic dental identification, according to a study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences (July 12, 2010).

Researchers from the Center for Education and Research in Forensics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio conducted an online forensic dental identification exercise involving 24 ante-mortem and post-mortem (AM-PM) dental radiograph pairs from actual forensic identification cases. Images had been digitally cropped to remove coronal tooth structure and dental restorations.

Volunteer forensic odontologists were recruited to compare the AM-PM dental radiographs online and conclude identification status using American Board of Forensic Odontology guidelines.

The mean accuracy rate for identification was 86.0%, the researchers reported. When the same radiograph pairs were compared using a digital imaging software algorithm that generated a normalized coefficient of similarity for each pair, 20 of the radiograph pairs generated a mean accuracy of 85.0%. Four of the pairs could not be used to generate a coefficient of similarity.

"Computer-aided dental identification allows for an objective comparison of AM-PM radiographs and can be a useful tool to support a forensic dental identification conclusion," the researchers wrote.

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