How reliable is apparent age at death on cadavers?

Abstract:

:The assessment of age at death for identification purposes is a frequent and tough challenge for forensic pathologists and anthropologists. Too frequently, visual assessment of age is performed on well-preserved corpses, a method considered subjective and full of pitfalls, but whose level of inadequacy no one has yet tested or proven. This study consisted in the visual estimation of the age of 100 cadavers performed by a total of 37 observers among those usually attending the dissection room. Cadavers were of Caucasian ethnicity, well preserved, belonging to individuals who died of natural death. All the evaluations were performed prior to autopsy. Observers assessed the age with ranges of 5 and 10 years, indicating also the body part they mainly observed for each case. Globally, the 5-year range had an accuracy of 35%, increasing to 69% with the 10-year range. The highest accuracy was in the 31-60 age category (74.7% with the 10-year range), and the skin seemed to be the most reliable age parameter (71.5% of accuracy when observed), while the face was considered most frequently, in 92.4% of cases. A simple formula with the general "mean of averages" in the range given by the observers and related standard deviations was then developed; the average values with standard deviations of 4.62 lead to age estimation with ranges of some 20 years that seem to be fairly reliable and suitable, sometimes in alignment with classic anthropological methods, in the age estimation of well-preserved corpses.

journal_name

Int J Legal Med

authors

Amadasi A,Merusi N,Cattaneo C

doi

10.1007/s00414-014-1042-9

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2015-07-01 00:00:00

pages

913-8

issue

4

eissn

0937-9827

issn

1437-1596

journal_volume

129

pub_type

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