Standardized anthropological measurement of postcranial bones using three-dimensional models in CAD software

Mikaela S. Reynolds*, Donna M. MacGregor, Mark D. Barry, Nicolene Lottering, Beat Schmutz, Lance J. Wilson, Matthew Meredith, Laura S. Gregory

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This study introduces a standardized protocol for conducting linear measurements of postcranial skeletal elements using three-dimensional (3D) models constructed from post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) scans. Using femoral DICOM datasets, reference planes were generated and plane-to-plane measurements were conducted on 3D surface rendered models. Bicondylar length, epicondylar breadth, anterior-posterior (AP) diameter, medial-lateral (ML) diameter and cortical area at the midshaft were measured by four observers to test the measurement error variance and observer agreement of the protocol (n = 6). Intra-observer error resulted in a mean relative technical error of measurement (%TEM) of 0.11 and an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.999 (CI = 0.998–1.000); inter-observer error resulted in a mean %TEM of 0.54 and ICC of 0.996 (CI = 0.979–1.000) for bicondylar length. Epicondylar breadth, AP diameter, ML diameter and cortical area also yielded minimal error. Precision testing demonstrated that the approach is highly repeatable and is recommended for implementation in anthropological investigation and research. This study exploits the benefits of virtual anthropology, introducing an innovative, standardized alternative to dry bone osteometric measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-387
Number of pages7
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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