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Forensic Age Estimation on Digital X-ray Images: Medial Epiphyses of the Clavicle and First Rib Ossification in Relation to Chronological Age


  • Partially supported by research grants of the Ministry of Education and Sciences of Spain (ref. TIN2006-00829) and Council of Innovation, Science and Companies of the Autonomic Government of Andalusia (ref. TIC1619), both under FEDER foundations.

  • Presented in part at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the AGFAD, March 14, 2008, in Berlin, Germany.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Dr. Pedro Manuel Garamendi, Ph.D.
Legal Medicine Institute of Huelva
Forensic Pathology Department
Plaza Isabel La Católica, 9
Huelva 21071


Abstract:  In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in forensic sciences about forensic age estimation in living subjects by means of radiological methods. This research was conducted on digital thorax X-rays to test the usefulness of some radiological changes in the clavicle and first rib. The sample consisted in a total of 123 subjects of Spanish origin (61 men and 62 women; age range: 5–75 years). From all subjects, a thorax posterior-anterior radiograph was obtained in digital format. Scoring for fusion of medial epiphyses of the clavicle was carried out by Schmeling’s system and ossification of the costal cartilage of the first rib by Michelson’s system. Degree of ossification and epiphyseal fusion were analyzed in relation with known age and sex of these subjects. The results give a minimum age of >20 years for full fusion of the medial epiphysis of the clavicle (Stages 4 and 5). Concerning the first rib, all subjects with the final Stage 3 of ossification were above 25 years of age. These results suggest that the first rib ossification might become an additional method to the ones so far recommended for forensic age estimation in subjects around 21. New research would be desirable to confirm this suggestion.