U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Validation of Chest X-Ray Comparisons for Unknown Decedent Identification

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 47 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 725-729
Carrie M. Kuehn B.A.; Katherine M. Taylor Ph.D.; F. A. Mann M.D.; Anthony J. Wilson M.B.; Richard C. Harruff M.D.
Date Published
July 2002
5 pages
This study sought to validate the comparison of chest radiographs for identification of unknown human remains.
The study attempted to quantify the reliability of ante- and postmortem chest radiograph comparison for decedent identification; to identify useful radiologic features supporting decedent identification; and to recognize sources of error in decedent identification related to use of comparative radiographs. A forensic pathologist, a forensic anthropologist, and two radiologists participated in the study. Chest radiograph comparisons proved reliable, if basic decedent information was provided, and antemortem and postmortem radiographs were adequately positioned and exposed. The study described use of chest radiographic comparison for identification as an important aspect of medico-legal death investigation which must be understood with regard to its limitations. The study demonstrated only 80 percent accuracy, and identified quality of the ante- and postmortem radiographs as the major limitation. The study suggests that focusing on normal anatomical landmarks and skeletal structures using a morphological approach to comparison rather than relying upon diagnostic abnormalities, may provide the most straightforward and accurate method of identification. Tables, references