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Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences

ISSN: 0045-0618 (Print) 1834-562X (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tajf20

A preliminary anthropometric study of height and


sex determination using percutaneous humeral
and tibial lengths

Christian Armah, Chrissie Stansie Abaidoo, Joshua Tetteh, Thomas Diby,


Obed Ohene-Djan Atuahene, Nancy Darko & Atta Kusi Appiah

To cite this article: Christian Armah, Chrissie Stansie Abaidoo, Joshua Tetteh, Thomas
Diby, Obed Ohene-Djan Atuahene, Nancy Darko & Atta Kusi Appiah (2017): A preliminary
anthropometric study of height and sex determination using percutaneous humeral and tibial
lengths, Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/00450618.2016.1257065

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00450618.2016.1257065

Published online: 19 Jan 2017.

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Download by: [University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries] Date: 21 January 2017, At: 10:05
Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2017
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00450618.2016.1257065

A preliminary anthropometric study of height and sex


determination using percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths
Christian Armah, Chrissie Stansie Abaidoo, Joshua Tetteh, Thomas Diby,
Obed Ohene-Djan Atuahene, Nancy Darko and Atta Kusi Appiah
Department of Anatomy School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology,
Kumasi, Ghana

ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY


Height, age and sex determination from different bones of the body Received 12 July 2016
are helpful for establishing the identity of an individual. In developed Accepted26 October 2016
countries, established osteometric data exist for height and sex
KEYWORDS
determination. However, very little information is available on the Height; percutaneous; sex;
use of osteometric indices for forensic and biometric purposes in humerus; tibia; osteometric
Ghana. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine height and index
sex of participants using percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths.
One hundred undergraduate students were recruited from the Kwame
Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with 55% males and
45% females aged between 18 and 43 years for the study. Male
participants had longer humeri and tibiae than females (p<0.05). In
both male and female participants, right humeri were slightly longer
than the left, and left tibiae were slightly longer than the right, but
these differences were not statistically significant. Mean humeral and
tibial lengths of the study population differed significantly from those
reported for Indians, Nigerians, Turks and Iranians. Tibial length was
a better estimator of osteometric index for height and left humeral
length was the only sexually dimorphic parameter, making these
indices useful tools for preliminary height and sex determination.

Introduction
The height of an individual is an inherent characteristic and is considered as one of the
important parameters for personal identification1. Height estimation from long bones, such
as the humerus and tibia, becomes necessary when the height of an individual cannot be
measured directly, particularly in individuals who are debilitated, bedridden or may have
problems with the vertebral column or limbs2. Therefore, percutaneous measurements of
long bones among the living have recently been adopted for the formulation of popula-
tion-specific regression formulae for stature estimation2. Other important parameters used
for personal identification are the pelvis and the skull3. In instances where only separated
or fragmented bones are seen, the pelvis or skull may not be available. In such cases, post-
cranial bones such as long bones may be used for the development of standards for sex
determination by using discriminant function analysis4. Natural disasters and road traffic

CONTACT Chrissie Stansie Abaidoo chrissiestansieabaidoo@yahoo.co.uk


2017 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences
2 C. ARMAH ET AL.

accidents with multiple casualties are on the increase in Ghana5. These usually result in
dismembered body parts, leading to a challenge in matching these to their respective per-
sons. Information on the long bones could therefore be a useful means of identification in
such conditions. This system of identification is well established in the developed world6.
However, population-specific data for identification in Ghanaians are limited. Therefore, the
aim of the current study was to determine height and sex of participants using percutaneous
humeral and tibial lengths and specifically sought;

To determine the height of the male and female participants


To measure percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths of both male and female
participants
To determine the relationship between left and right percutaneous humeral and tibial
lengths in both male and female participants
To compare the data of this study with published data for regional variations
To identify the best osteometric indices for height and sex determination

Materials and methods


The current study was conducted at the Anatomy Department, School of Medical Sciences,
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. A total of 100 participants with a
similar socio-economic background were recruited, out of which 55% were males and 45%
were females, aged between 18 and 43years. All participants were Ghanaians consisting of
a genetically homogeneous population. Participant informed consent and ethical approval
were sought from the Committee on Human Research and Publications Ethics at the Kwame
Nkrumah University for Science and Technology, School of Medical Sciences and the Komfo
Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. Participants with upper and lower limb deform-
ities as well as amputees were excluded from the present study whilst participants without
any upper and lower limb deformities were recruited for this study. The height of participants
was measured with a Shahes Stature Meter (Shanghai, China). Percutaneous humeral length
was measured from the acromial end of the clavicle along the posterior lateral aspect of the
arm to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus and percutaneous tibial length was measured
from the upper limit of the medial condyle to the lower tip of the medial malleolus using a
Stanleys paper tape measure79 (USA). The data collected were analysed statistically using
the IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.0. Regression analysis of
humeral and tibial lengths generated equations for height and sex determination.

Results
Males had a mean age of 22.042.58years with a range of 18years to 33years whereas the
mean age and age range of the female participants was 22.163.78years and 18 to 43years
respectively.

Descriptive statistics of height, percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths


Mean male height was 171.366.10cm whereas females had a mean of 162.614.92cm
(Table 1). There was a statistically significant difference between the measured height of
males and that of females (p<0.05).
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES 3

Table 1.Descriptive statistics of measured parameters.


Male participants Female participants
Parameter Mean SD p Mean SD p p*
Humeral length R 35.70 2.30cm 0.167 32.77 2.89cm 0.225 0.000*
L 35.62 2.16cm 32.74 2.86cm 0.000*
Tibial length R 37.93 2.53cm 0.054 36.35 2.00cm 0.096 0.000*
L 38.04 2.60cm 36.40 1.93cm 0.000*
Height 171.36 6.10cm 162.61 4.92cm 0.000*
R=right; L=Left; cm=centimetres; SD=Standard deviation; p=level of significance between right and left humeral and
tibial lengths; p* = statistically significant value between males and females participants (p<0.05).

Table 2.Correlation of height with percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths.


Parameter Male participants Female participants
Height RHL LHL RTL LTL RHL LHL RTL LTL
r 0.54 0.55 0.71 0.72 0.13 0.13 0.64 0.65
p 0.000* 0.000* 0.000* 0.000* 0.396 0.414 0.000* 0.000*
r=correlation coefficient; p=level of significance; * = statistically significant value (p<0.05); LHL=Left Humeral Length;
RHL=Right Humeral Length; RTL=Right Tibial Length; LTL=Left Tibial Length.

Mean right and left percutaneous humeral lengths were 35.702.30cm and
35.622.16cm respectively for males whilst females had 32.772.89cm and 32.742.86cm
respectively. There was a statistically significant (p<0.05) difference between the mean
percutaneous humeral lengths of males and females on both sides.
Males had mean right and left tibial lengths of 37.932.53cm and 38.042.60cm respec-
tively whilst females had 36.352.00cm and 36.401.93cm respectively. There was a sta-
tistically significant (p<0.05) difference between male and female tibial lengths (Table 1).

Correlation between percutaneous humeral, tibial lengths and height


There was a statistically significant correlation between height and the pooled humeral
length, (r=0.54, p<0.05) in the study population. In males, there was a statistically significant
correlation between height and left humeral length (r=0.55, p<0.05) and right humeral
length (r=0.54, p<0.05). The correlation between height of females and humeral length
(left and right) was not statistically significant (r=0.13, p>0.05).
There was a statistically significant correlation between height and the pooled tibial
length, (r=0.72, p<0.05) of participants. Height correlated significantly (p<0.05) with right
(r=0.72) and left (r=0.71) tibial lengths of males and right (r=0.64) and left (r=0.65) tibial
lengths of females (Table 2).

Regression equations for height estimation


Table 3 shows regression equations for stature estimation using humeral and tibial lengths
obtained in this study; Y = m x + b
where
Y = the height of participantsm=the coefficient of determination
x = the right or left humeral and/or tibial lengths
b = is the constant value of the equation.
4 C. ARMAH ET AL.

Table 3.Regression of height against percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths.


Sex Parameter Regression equation R2 adjR2 P
Males RHL Y = 1.44 (RHL) + 119.82 0.29 0.28 0.000*
LHL Y = 1.56 (LHL) + 115.90 0.30 0.29 0.000*
RTL Y = 1.75 (RTL) + 105.17 0.52 0.51 0.000*
LTL Y = 1.67 (LTL) + 107.91 0.50 0.49 0.000*
Females RTL Y = 1.58 (RTL) + 105.11 0.42 0.40 0.000*
LTL Y = 1.66 (LTL) + 102.32 0.42 0.41 0.000*
Y=Dependent variable (stature); * = statistically significant value (p<0.05); R2=regression coefficient of determination;
adjR2=Adjusted regression coefficient of determination; P=Level of significance; LHL=Left Humeral Length; RHL=Right
Humeral Length; RTL=Right Tibial Length; LTL=Left Tibial Length.

Table 4.Comparison of mean humeral length to other populations.


Variable N Mean SD t p
Males (HL)
Ghanaians 55 35.70 2.30cm
Western Indians7 100 30.98 2.43cm 15.238 0.000*
Iranians8 50 33.72 2.30cm 6.385 0.000*

Females (HL)
Ghanaians 45 32.77 2.89cm
Western Indians7 100 28.27 1.92cm 10.449 0.000*
Iranians8 50 30.12 2.29cm 6.154 0.000*

HL=Humeral length; N=Sample size; SD=Standard Deviation; t=t-statistics; p=Level of significance; * = Statistically
significant value using students t-test (p<0.05).

In males, right tibial length was a better marker for the estimation of height (adjR2=0.51).
In females, the left tibial length was the better marker for the estimation of height (adjR2 =
0.41).

Inter-population comparison of mean humeral and tibial lengths


The mean percutaneous humeral length of the study population differed significantly from
the means of similar studies among Western Indians7 and Iranians10 for both male and female
participants (Table 4). The mean tibial length of the study population was also found to be
significantly different from the means of similar studies among Eastern Indians11, Nigerians12
and Eastern Anatolians in Turkey13 (Table 5).

Sex determination
When determining sex using percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths, the left humeral
length was the only parameter that showed statistically significant sexual dimorphism
(p<0.05). In generating an equation using binary logistics regression, the left humeral length
was used to derive an equation; S = 0.455(LHL) + 15.352, where LHL=Left Humeral Length;
S=female, where a prediction probability of the equation was a positive value, whilst
S=male, where a prediction probability was a negative value. The equation correctly pre-
dicted the sex of 80% and 82.2% of males and females respectively, with an overall corrected
prediction percentage of 81%.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES 5

Table 5.Comparison of mean tibial length to other populations.


Variable N Mean SD t p
Males (TL)
Ghanaians 55 37.93 2.53cm
Eastern Indians9 294 35.99 2.73cm 5.698 0.000*
Nigerians10 96 46.66 4.50cm 25.56 0.000*
Turks11 62 36.76 2.38cm 3.441 0.001*

Females (TL)
Ghanaians 45 36.35 2.00cm
Eastern Indians9 224 33.85 2.12cm 8.373 0.000*
Nigerians10 104 41.14 3.97cm 16.033 0.000*
Turks11 61 33.82 1.88cm 8.474 0.000*
TL=Tibial length; N=Sample size; SD = Standard Deviation; t = t-statistics; p = Level of significance; * = Statistically
significant value using student t-test (p<0.05).

Discussion
In this study, there was a statistically significant correlation between height and percutane-
ous humeral length. The results of the current study showed that percutaneous humeral
length was a better estimator of height in males than in females. However, in females the
correlation between height and humeral length was not statistically significant. The right
humeral length was numerically higher than the left in both males and females. Most of the
participants recruited in this study were right handed and therefore the frequent use of the
right hand may have caused an increase in cortical area in the brain and a higher neural
activation associated with the right arm, making the use of the right arm more frequent than
the left arm14. However, this difference was not statistically significant enough to phenotyp-
ically affect bilateral symmetry in the individuals. Prateek et al.15 estimated height using the
humeral length of 200 individuals within the age range of 17-22years. These authors reported
a statistically significant (p<0.05) correlation between height and length of the humerus in
both males and females with the correlation being highest in males (r=0.845) than in females
(r=0.665). Also, Borkar7 reported statistically significant (p<0.05) correlation between height
and humeral length.
In determining the significance of tibial length in the estimation of height, this study
established that there is a statistically significant correlation between height and percuta-
neous tibial length in both males and females. Males had longer tibiae than females. This
could be due to factors such as the greater periosteal diameter bone growth in males than
in females. In addition, the effect of the sex hormones on bone development may be a factor
for the difference between male and female tibiae. Testosterone is the main hormone that
primarily influences the shape of the bones in males while oestrogen is the hormone that
has greater effect on female bone development16. From infancy, both males and females
have relatively malleable cartilage at the epiphyseal plates that grow and become firm and
solid with age17. The high levels of oestrogen in females during puberty cause an earlier
closure of these epiphyseal plates. By age 18, female epiphyseal plates have already fused
with the shaft, whereas in males epiphyseal fusion ends at around age 21. This allows males
more time to gain bone mass18. Several authors have reported significant correlations
between tibial length and height8,19. However, it has been documented by several researchers
that there is no statistically significant (p>0.05) difference between left and right percuta-
neous tibial lengths of the same sex2022.
6 C. ARMAH ET AL.

The derived regression equations are specific for the study population. The findings of
the present study are in agreement with those of Singh et al.23, which suggested that statis-
tical formulae derived using the regression method are only appropriate when used in the
specific population within which they are derived. They further suggested that regression
formulae derived in a particular population could either underestimate or overestimate
stature if applied to a different population23.
The mean percutaneous humeral length of the study population differed significantly
from the means of similar studies among Western Indians7 and Iranians10 for both male and
female participants (Table 4). The mean tibial length of the study population also differed
significantly from the means of similar studies among Eastern Indians11, Nigerians12 and
Eastern Anatolians in Turkey13 (Table 5). These findings are consistent with those of Singh et
al.23 who reported that inter-population differences exist in both males and females23. These
variations may be due to differences in geographical area and nutrition. Since there are
variations in staple foods and nutritional usage, there may be differences in the nutrients
gained from food. Nutrients may be a contributory factor in bone growth23.
In the determination of sex, the findings of this study showed that left humeral length
was the only statistically significant sex determinant (p<0.05). This outcome is in line with
the findings of Thakur et al.24 who reported that maximum humeral length is a statistically
significant sex determinant (p<0.001)24. Ozer et al.13 reported that tibial length is not sexually
dimorphic, unlike the midshaft circumference of the tibia.

Conclusion
In the current study, male participants had longer humeri and tibiae than females. In both
male and female participants, right humeri were slightly longer than the left and left tibiae
were slightly longer than the right but these differences were not statistically significant.
Mean percutaneous humeral and tibial lengths of the study population differed significantly
from those reported for Indians, Nigerians, Turks and Iranians. Tibial length was a better
parameter for estimating the height, and left humeral length was the only statistically sig-
nificant sex determinant. The results of this study serve as baseline data for future studies
of Ghanaians.

Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

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