Magnetic resonance imaging for forensic age estimation in living children and young adults: a systematic review

Jannick De Tobel*, Jeroen Bauwens, Griet I. L. Parmentier, Ademir Franco, Nele S. Pauwels, Koenraad L. Verstraete, Patrick W. Thevissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

The use of MRI in forensic age estimation has been explored extensively during the last decade. The authors of this paper synthesized the available MRI data for forensic age estimation in living children and young adults to provide a comprehensive overview that can guide age estimation practice and future research. To do so, the authors searched MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science, along with cited and citing articles and study registers. Two authors independently selected articles, conducted data extraction, and assessed risk of bias. They considered study populations including living subjects up to 30 years old. Fifty-five studies were included in qualitative analysis and 33 in quantitative analysis. Most studies had biases including use of relatively small European (Caucasian) populations, varying MR approaches and varying staging techniques. Therefore, it was not appropriate to pool the age distribution data. The authors found that reproducibility of staging was remarkably lower in clavicles than in any other anatomical structure. Age estimation performance was in line with the gold standard, radiography, with mean absolute errors ranging from 0.85 years to 2.0 years. The proportion of correctly classified minors ranged from 65% to 91%. Multifactorial age estimation performed better than that based on a single anatomical site. The authors found that more multifactorial age estimation studies are necessary, together with studies testing whether the MRI data can safely be pooled. The current review results can guide future studies, help medical professionals to decide on the preferred approach for specific cases, and help judicial professionals to interpret the evidential value of age estimation results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1708
Number of pages18
JournalPediatric Radiology
Volume50
Issue number12
Early online date31 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Age estimation
  • Child
  • Forensic
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Young adult
  • DISTAL RADIAL EPIPHYSIS
  • SPHENO-OCCIPITAL SYNCHONDROSIS
  • SKELETAL AGE
  • BONE-AGE
  • TIBIAL EPIPHYSIS
  • 3RD MOLAR
  • AUTOMATED-DETERMINATION
  • FOOTBALL PLAYERS
  • GROWTH-PLATE
  • T MRI

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