Thyroid cartilage ossification and multislice computed tomography examination: a useful tool for age assessment?

J Forensic Sci. 2010 May;55(3):677-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01318.x. Epub 2010 Mar 15.


Many authors have studied the thyroid cartilage ossification process using radiographic features for age estimation of individuals. Their results were various: Sugiyama reported excellent correlation coefficients between ossification rates and civil age, unlike most other authors. We hypothesized that recent advances in imaging techniques would enable more precise evaluation of the ossification of the thyroid cartilage. We retrospectively analyzed the CT scans of 312 French patients using postprocessing software to examine the pattern of thyroid cartilage ossification, calculating the ossified volume of the cartilage on 3D reconstructions. Pearson's correlation coefficients for volume were 0.73 for men and 0.75 for women (standard error 18.02 and 17.06), indicating considerable inter-individual variability. Although a correlation between civil age and morphological changes was found, these methods based on thyroid cartilage ossification were not accurate enough for the assessment of individual age.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Determination by Skeleton / methods*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Forensic Anthropology / methods
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteogenesis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Thyroid Cartilage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Young Adult