Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

Anthropological measurement of lower limb and foot bones using multi-detector computed tomography

C. Robinson, R. Eisma, B. Morgan, A. Jeffery, E.M.A. Graham, S. Black & G.N. Rutty. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53(6), pp. 1289-1295. (2008).


Anthropological examination of defleshed bones is the gold standard for osteological measurement in forensic practice. However, multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) offers the opportunity of three-dimensional imaging of skeletal elements, allowing measurement of bones in any plane without defleshing. We present our experiences of the examination of 15 human lower limbs in different states of decomposition using MDCT. We present our method of imaging and radiological measurement of the bones including sex assessment. The radiological measurements were undertaken by three professional groups–anthropology, radiology, and forensic pathology–both at the site of scanning and at a remote site. The results were compared to anthropological oestological assessment of the defleshed bones. We discuss the limitations of this technique and the potential applications of our observations. We introduce the concept of remote radiological anthropological measurement of bones, so-called tele-anthro-radiology and the role that this could play in providing the facility for standardization of protocols, international peer review and quality assurance schemes.

Tags: , Eleanor Graham