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Forensic Sci Int. 2013 Sep 10;231(1-3):405.e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.05.017. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Body mass estimation in modern population using anthropometric measurements from computed tomography.

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Department of Forensic Medicine, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poland.


Forensic anthropologists are able to estimate the stature of a skeleton, its sex and biological age at death, with a relatively high degree of accuracy. Body mass estimation from the stature and bi-iliac (maximum pelvic) breadth and femoral head breadth can be useful in forensic investigations involving unidentified skeletal remains. Predicting the body mass of skeletal remains always involves significant inaccuracy, however when body mass extremes are disregarded average figures provide the best estimation. The aim of the study was to investigate whether the methods usually used in body mass estimation are accurate in different BMI ranges. The usefulness of these methods in forensic anthropology was discussed. The study was performed using CT images of widely differing body types of modern central European populations. Maximum pelvic breadth and anteroposterior femoral head breadth were measured directly from the appropriate CT scan slices for each individual. Body mass index was established for each individual. Four different methods of body mass estimation were applied. The statistical analysis showed that body mass prediction methods based on the bi-iliac breadth with known stature and the femoral head breadth show strong correspondence. The results of body mass estimation using different methods were in high correlation with normal BMI. The accuracy of body mass prediction of underweight and obesity cases (BMI extremes) showed significant inaccuracy. Body mass estimation methods can provide important information for forensic anthropological investigation and personal identification. However, one should be aware of the discrepancies and should apply the equations carefully as they can carry significant errors.


Body mass estimation; Body mass index; Forensic anthropology

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