Computer-aided dental identification: An objective method for assessment of radiographic image similarity

Diane J. Flint, Stephen Brent Dove, Paula C. Brumit, Marea White, David R. Senn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A pilot study evaluated a computer-based method for comparing digital dental images, utilizing a registration algorithm to correct for variations in projection geometry between images prior to a subtraction analysis. A numerical assessment of similarity was generated for pairs of images. Using well-controlled laboratory settings, the method was evaluated as to its ability to identify the correct specimen with positive results. A subsequent clinical study examined longitudinal radiographic examinations of selected anatomical areas on 47 patients, analyzing the computer-based method in making the correct identification based upon a threshold level of similarity. The results showed that at a threshold of 0.855, there were two false negative and two false positive identifications out of 957 analyses. Based on these initial findings, 25 dental records having two sets of full mouth series of radiographs were selected. The radiographs were digitized and grouped into six anatomical regions. The more recent set of films served as postmortem images. Each postmortem image was analyzed against all other images within the region. Images were registered to correct for differences in projection geometry prior to analysis. An area of interest was selected to assess image similarity. Analysis of variance was used to determine that there was a significant difference between images from the same individual and those from different individuals. Results showed that the threshold level of concordance will vary with the anatomical region of the mouth examined. This method may provide the most objective and reliable method for postmortem dental identification using intra-oral images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Dental radiography
  • Forensic dentistry
  • Forensic odontology
  • Forensic science
  • Human identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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