A blind accuracy assessment of computer-modeled forensic facial reconstruction using computed tomography data from live subjects

Caroline Wilkinson, Chris Rynn, Heather Peters, Myke Taister, Chung How Kau, Stephen Richmond

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    56 Citations (Scopus)


    A computer modeling system for facial reconstruction has been developed that employs a touch-based application to create anatomically accurate facial models focusing on skeletal detail. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the system and illustrates its accuracy and reliability with a blind study using computed tomography (CT) data of living individuals. Three-dimensional models of the skulls of two white North American adults (one male, one female) were imported into the computer system. Facial reconstructions were produced by two practitioners following the Manchester method. Two posters were produced, each including a face pool of five surface model images and the facial reconstruction. The face pool related to the sex, age, and ethnic group of the target individual and included the surface model image of the target individual. Fifty-two volunteers were asked to choose the face from the face pool that most resembled each reconstruction. Both reconstructions received majority percentage hit rates that were at least 50% greater than any other face in the pool. The combined percentage hit rate was 50% above chance (70%). A quantitative comparison of the facial morphology between the facial reconstructions and the CT scan models of the subjects was carried out using Rapidform™ 2004 PP2-RF4. The majority of the surfaces of the facial reconstructions showed less than 2.5 mm error and 90% of the male face and 75% of the female face showed less than 5 mm error. Many of the differences between the facial reconstructions and the facial scans were probably the result of positional effects caused during the CT scanning procedure, especially on the female subject who had a fatter face than the male subject. The areas of most facial reconstruction error were at the ears and nasal tip.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-187
    Number of pages9
    JournalForensic Science, Medicine and Pathology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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