Body Height Estimation from Femur Measurements in Postmortem Computed Tomography

Lösch, Sandra; Kramis, Simon; Näf, Maya; Siegmund, Frank; Kanz, Fabian; Zech, Wolf-Dieter (February 2015). Body Height Estimation from Femur Measurements in Postmortem Computed Tomography. In: 67th Annual Scientific Meeeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Proceedings (p. 115). Colorado Springs, CO 80904: American Academy of Forensic Sciences

[img] Image (Poster)
Poster_KH.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (425kB)

After attending this presentation, attendees will: (1) understand how body height from computed tomography data can be estimated;
and, (2) gain knowledge about the accuracy of estimated body height and limitations.
The presentation will impact the forensic science community by providing knowledge and competence which will enable attendees
to develop formulas for single bones to reconstruct body height using postmortem Computer Tomography (p-CT) data.
The estimation of Body Height (BH) is an important component of the identification of corpses and skeletal remains. Stature can
be estimated with relative accuracy via the measurement of long bones, such as the femora. Compared to time-consuming maceration
procedures, p-CT allows fast and simple measurements of bones. This study undertook four objectives concerning the accuracy of BH
estimation via p-CT: (1) accuracy between measurements on native bone and p-CT imaged bone (F1 according to Martin 1914); (2)
intra-observer p-CT measurement precision; (3) accuracy between formula-based estimation of the BH and conventional body length
measurement during autopsy; and, (4) accuracy of different estimation formulas available.1
In the first step, the accuracy of measurements in the CT compared to those obtained using an osteometric board was evaluated on
the basis of eight defleshed femora. Then the femora of 83 female and 144 male corpses of a Swiss population for which p-CTs had
been performed, were measured at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Bern. After two months, 20 individuals were measured again in
order to assess the intraobserver error.
The mean age of the men was 53±17 years and that of the women was 61±20 years. Additionally, the body length of the corpses
was measured conventionally. The mean body length was 176.6±7.2cm for men and 163.6±7.8cm for women.
The images that were obtained using a six-slice CT were reconstructed with a slice thickness of 1.25mm. Analysis and measurements
of CT images were performed on a multipurpose workstation. As a forensic standard procedure, stature was estimated by means of the
regression equations by Penning & Riepert developed on a Southern German population and for comparison, also those referenced by
Trotter & Gleser “American White.”2,3 All statistical tests were performed with a statistical software.
No significant differences were found between the CT and osteometric board measurements. The double p-CT measurement of 20
individuals resulted in an absolute intra-observer difference of 0.4±0.3mm.
For both sexes, the correlation between the body length and the estimated BH using the F1 measurements was highly significant.
The correlation coefficient was slightly higher for women. The differences in accuracy of the different formulas were small. While the
errors of BH estimation were generally ±4.5–5.0cm, the consideration of age led to an increase in accuracy of a few millimetres to about
1cm. BH estimations according to Penning & Riepert and Trotter & Gleser were slightly more accurate when age-at-death was taken
into account.2,3 That way, stature estimations in the group of individuals older than 60 years were improved by about 2.4cm and 3.1cm.2,3
The error of estimation is therefore about a third of the common ±4.7cm error range.
Femur measurements in p-CT allow very accurate BH estimations. Estimations according to Penning led to good results that
(barely) come closer to the true value than the frequently used formulas by Trotter & Gleser “American White.”2,3 Therefore, the
formulas by Penning & Riepert are also validated for this substantial recent Swiss population.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Lösch, Sandra, Kramis, Simon, Zech, Wolf-Dieter


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology


American Academy of Forensic Sciences




Sandra Lösch

Date Deposited:

01 Dec 2015 11:01

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:50




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback