The influence of motion artefacts on magnetic resonance imaging of the clavicles for age estimation

Jannick De Tobel, Mayonne van Wijk, Ivo Alberink, Elke Hillewig, Inès Phlypo, Rick R. van Rijn, Patrick Werner Thevissen, Koenraad Luc Verstraete, Michiel Bart de Haas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To determine how motion affects stage allocation to the clavicle’s sternal end on MRI. Materials and methods: Eighteen volunteers (9 females, 9 males) between 14 and 30 years old were prospectively scanned with 3-T MRI. One resting-state scan was followed by five intentional motion scans. Additionally, a control group of 72 resting-state scans were selected from previous research. Firstly, six observers allocated developmental stages to the clavicles independently. Secondly, they re-assessed the images, allocating developmental statuses (immature, mature). Finally, the resting-state scans of the 18 volunteers were assessed in consensus to decide on the “correct” stage/status. Results were compared between groups (control, prospective resting state, prospective motion), and between staging techniques (stages/statuses). Results: Inter-observer agreement was low (Krippendorff α 0.23–0.67). The proportion of correctly allocated stages (64%) was lower than correctly allocated statuses (83%). Overall, intentional motion resulted in fewer assessable images and less images of sufficient evidential value. The proportion of correctly allocated stages did not differ between resting-state (64%) and motion scans (65%), while correctly allocated statuses were more prevalent in resting-state scans (83% versus 77%). Remarkably, motion scans did not render a systematically higher or lower stage/status, compared to the consensus. Conclusion: Intentional motion impedes clavicle MRI for age estimation. Still, in case of obvious disturbances, the forensic expert will consider the MRI unsuitable as evidence. Thus, the development of the clavicle as such and the staging technique seem to play a more important role in allocating a faulty stage for age estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-768
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Age determination by skeleton
  • Clavicle
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Motion artefact


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