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New Automated System Can ID Disaster Victims in Minutes
Date:11/27/2007

ver three months to identify all of the bodies," she said.

"Our system will cut the workload of forensic scientists by 95 percent [and] will drastically reduce the chance of error," Kosuge said.

Kosuge and her team are to present their findings Tuesday at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting, in Chicago.

To develop the new dental identification system, the researchers relied on "Phase-Only Correlation" (POC) technology. This image-matching software automatically adjusts and corrects the kind of distortions that commonly appear in dental X-rays.

Kosuge and her colleagues tested the viability of POC software while analyzing the dental X-rays of 60 Japanese patients both before and after dental treatment. Following POC image corrections, the computerized system generated a list of the three closest identification matches for each set of X-rays. Total computation time needed to generate the match list was just 3.6 seconds per pair, on average.

Next, a group of forensic experts evaluated each of the three matches to arrive at a final identification decision. They found that 87 percent of the patients were correctly "recognized" by the POC method's first match. The success rate rose to 98 percent by the second match. A perfect 100 percent identification match rate was achieved by the third go-round.

Kosuge and her colleagues estimated that by accurately zeroing in on just three X-ray-to-patient matches from among all possible combinations, their computerized approach would effectively reduce the forensic workload by 95 percent.

The team said the system would be available for use in Japan within a year.

Kosuge said the new system could also ease some of the emotional turmoil caused by a mass disaster.

"In Japan -- primarily a Buddhist nation -- tradition dictates that we cremate a deceased loved one within a few days to a week at the most," she said. "Imagine the
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