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Int J Legal Med. 2018 Sep;132(5):1415-1425. doi: 10.1007/s00414-018-1847-z. Epub 2018 Apr 30.

Forensic age estimation using computed tomography of the medial clavicular epiphysis: a systematic review.

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Faculté de médecine, Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France.
Institut médico-légal, CHRU Tours, Tours, France.
Pôle d'imagerie médicale, CHRU Tours, Tours, France.
Service de néphrologie et d'immunologie clinique, CHRU Tours, Tours, France.
Faculté de médecine, Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France.
Institut médico-légal, CHRU Tours, Tours, France.


Medicolegal physicians are increasingly called upon to aid in determining the administrative age group affiliation of refugees with questionable unaccompanied minor claims. According to guidelines for forensic age assessment, age differentiation along the 18-year-old cut-off relies on clavicular ossification. The thin-slice computed tomography scan (TSCTs) of the medial clavicular epiphysis (MCE) is one of the methods contributing to this assessment, though it is not yet universally accepted. The aim of this systematic review was to identify scientific papers where age was assessed using TSCTs of the MCE and to observe whether this examination was reproducible and reliable in estimating a person's age relative to the 18-year-old threshold. A search algorithm was applied to several databases to identify articles in accordance with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic-Reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement. One boxplot per article was constructed, separating by stage of maturation and sex. The 13 articles selected represented a sample of 5605 individuals (3396 males, 2209 females) aged 10 to 35 years. All individuals classified as stages 4 and 5 were aged 18 years or older. The same result was obtained concerning stage 3c, except in one article. The results thus appear reliable and reproducible, in particular, with respect to the 18-year-old threshold; medicolegal physicians should be able to estimate that all individuals in stages 4 and 5 are at least 18 years old. Additional studies applied to several other populations in the world should complement the selected studies.


Age assessment; Age estimation; Computed tomography; Living individuals; Medial clavicular epiphysis; Systematic review

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