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Superimposition-Based Personal Identification Using Skull Computed Tomographic Images: Application to Skull With Mouth Fixed Open by Residual Soft Tissue

Ishii, Masuko MSc*; Saitoh, Hisako DDS, PhD; Yasjima, Daisuke MD, PhD; Yohsuk, Makino MD†‡; Sakuma, Ayaka DDS, PhD; Yayama, Kazuhiro VM§∥; Iwase, Hirotaro MD, PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 3 - p 210–216
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318298de2b
Case Reports

We previously reported that superimposition of 3-dimensional (3D) images reconstructed from computed tomographic images of skeletonized skulls on photographs of the actual skulls afforded a match of skull contours, thereby demonstrating that superimposition of 3D-reconstructed images provides results identical to those obtained with actual skulls. The current superimposition procedure requires a skeletonized skull with mouth closed and thus is not applicable to personal identification using a skull with residual soft tissue or the mouth fixed open, such as those found in mummified or burned bodies. In this study, we scanned using computed tomography the skulls of mummified and immersed body with mandibles fixed open by residual soft tissue, created 3D-reconstructed skull images, which were digitally processed by computer software to close the mandible, and superimposed the images on antemortem facial photographs. The results demonstrated morphological consistency between the 3D-reconstructed skull images and facial photographs, indicating the applicability of the method to personal identification.

From the *Forensic Science Laboratory, Chiba Prefecture Police Headquarters; Departments of †Legal Medicine, and ‡Radiology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba; §Forensic Science Laboratory, Kyoto Prefecture Police Headquarters, Kyoto; and ∥Department of Neurosurgery, Kansai Medical University, Osaka, Japan.

Manuscript received June 18, 2012; accepted September 17, 2012.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Masuko Ishii, MSc, Forensic Science Laboratory, Chiba Prefecture Police Headquarters, 1-71-1, Chuo-minato, Chuo-Ku, Chiba 260-0024, Japan. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.