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Personal Identification Using Frontal Sinus Coding Methods: The Effect of Mixed Image Modality Comparisons

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 69 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2024 Pages: 1155-1170
Date Published
April 2024
16 pages

This paper describes a study that aimed to validate the exclusion rates and to establish matched-pair accuracy rates of two well-known coding methods for comparing the frontal sinus in skeletal identification; it reports finding low variable consistency and accuracy rates which led the authors to not recommend the use of those coding methods without a supporting identification method.


Several code-based methods have been created for comparing the frontal sinus in skeletal identification scenarios. However, little is known regarding matched-pair accuracy rates of these methods or how varying image modalities may affect these rates. The goals of this study were to validate the exclusion rates and to establish matched-pair accuracy rates of two well-cited coding methods. Additionally, individual variables were assessed for consistency in scoring between image modalities. Using a sample of U.S. African American, Native American, and European American females and males (n = 225), the authors examined individual variable scoring and string codes between two different image modalities (radiographs and CT-based 3D models). Arcades showed poor scoring consistency between modalities (p < 0.001). Although exclusion rates were similar to those reported in the original studies (93%–96%), matched-pair accuracy rates were low (13%–18%). None of the demographics (collection, sex, age, ancestry, and orientation) had an effect on the odds of a match. Interobserver and intraobserver analyses showed moderate to near-perfect agreement for all variables except supraorbital cells, which had minimal to no agreement. Currently, the authors do not recommend the application of these frontal sinus coding methods independent of other supporting identification methods given low variable consistency and accuracy rates. Visual identification should still be used to include or exclude an identification when using the frontal sinus. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: April 1, 2024