Identification of a Carbonized Body Using Implanted Surgical Plates: The Importance of Computed Tomography

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Abstract

In addition to clinical examination, forensic odontologists can use diagnostic imaging as an auxiliary method for identification. This paper reports a case where forensic odontologists from the Afrânio Peixoto Legal Medicine Institute in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) positively identified a carbonized and partially calcined body using oral and maxillofacial imaging. The cadaver showed several metallic plates fixed with metallic screws on bones of the neurocranium and viscerocranium. Family members provided spiral computed tomography scans of the skull and a panoramic radiograph that were acquired after an accident that required surgical procedures. Comparative analysis between the clinical exam and the maxillofacial images demonstrated complete coincidence, confirming the victim's identity. Dactyloscopy, which is the most commonly used method of identification, was not possible because of the body carbonization. Thus, diagnostic imaging, especially computed tomography, was essential for elucidation of this case.

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