Soft tissue evaluation as a correction factor for stature estimation

Bidmos, Mubarak Ariyo
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ABSTRACT The anatomical method of stature estimation, as it is applied today, was introduced by Georges Fully in 1956. While some authors consider it to be the most accurate method of stature estimation, others regard it to be inadequate as it underestimates living stature, possibly due to an error in the magnitude of Fully’s soft tissue indices. Nevertheless, Fully’s technique (1956) remains the only usable method for formulation of regression equations for estimation of stature in South Africa. Since long bones of the upper and lower limbs are sometimes recovered in various states of fragmentation, this study investigates the usefulness of measurements of fragments of the femur and intact metatarsals from cadaver derived skeletons of indigenous South Africans (ISA) and South Africans of European Descent (SAED) in stature reconstruction. In addition, the reliability of Fully’s soft tissue correction index was assessed on a sample of living ISA males. Analyses of data collected from 240 complete skeletons obtained from the Raymond A. Dart Collection of Human Skeletons revealed that moderate to high correlations exist between measurements of fragments of femur and skeletal height. Subsequently, population and sex specific regression equations for the estimation of skeletal height and maximum length of the femur were derived. The equations derived for the direct estimation of stature from fragments of the femur provide more accurate results compared to the indirect method. Regression equations were also derived from 6 measurements of metatarsals. The standard error of estimate for equations derived from metatarsal lengths was lower than that obtained for other skeletal elements studied so far for stature estimation in South Africans with the exception of intact long bones and fragments of the femur. Fully (1956) instructed that a soft tissue correction factor should be added to skeletal height in order to obtain an estimate of living stature. The estimate of living stature obtained from the addition of appropriate soft tissue indices of Fully (1956) and Raxter et al. (2006) to skeletal height calculated from MRI scan of 28 living subjects was found to be significantly lower than the measured living stature. This necessitated the derivation of new soft tissue index for ISA males. The accuracy of this new soft tissue correction index was found to be 100%.