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A comparison of computed tomography, X-ray and Lodox® scans in assessing pediatric skull fractures using piglets.

  • Spies, Amy Joy1
  • Steyn, Maryna1
  • Brits, Desiré1
  • 1 Human Variation and Identification Research Unit (HVIRU), School of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. , (South Africa)
Published Article
Journal of forensic sciences
Publication Date
Nov 02, 2020
DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.14614
PMID: 33136310


Skull fractures are common in children both due to abuse and accidental incidences. The accurate detection of these fractures may therefore be critical. The aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of CT, X-ray, and Lodox® scans, the latter which has not previously been evaluated and is commonly employed in South Africa, in detecting the number, location and type of pediatric skull fractures. Blunt force trauma was inflicted with a mallet on ten piglet skulls, which were CT, X-ray, and Lodox® scanned and then macerated. The number, location, and type of skull fractures visible using each imaging modality, and on the cleaned skulls, were recorded. Sensitivities and specificities of each method were calculated. For fracture number and location, CTs had a sensitivity of 47.3%, X-rays 22.4% and Lodox® 23.3%. For fracture type, sensitivities were 46.1%, 16.6%, and 17.8% for CT, X-ray, and Lodox® , respectively. Specificities were high (92.5%-100%) which reduces the risk of incorrectly diagnosing fractures. However, low sensitivities increase the risk of failing to identify fractures and possible victims of abuse. Osteological analysis should preferably be the method of choice when evaluating pediatric skull trauma, and CTs should be used when osteological analysis is not feasible. If CT scanners are not available, X-rays and Lodox® may have to be used. In these cases, additional radiographic views of the skull are imperative and may increase the sensitivity of these methods, although they are not recommended to detect exact pediatric skull fracture number, location, and type. © 2020 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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