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Frontal sinus development and juvenile age estimation

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2017

In order to examine growth and the utility of the frontal sinuses for age estimation, this study examined 392 radiographs (159 females and 233 males) from the Juvenile Radiograph Database.


Assessment of development is an important component of age estimation in juveniles. One area that has not been fully investigated as a possible aging method is the development of the frontal sinus. The frontal sinuses form when the ectocranial table of the frontal bone separates from the endocranial table forming an air pocket in the bone. The endocranial table ceases growth with the brain, while the ectocranial table is displaced anteriorly as the facial bones continue growth. In the current study, the sample included individuals who ranged in age from 0 to 18 years. Anterior view (or AP) radiographs were examined and were grouped based upon the presence or absence of the frontal sinus. Individuals were grouped into four age categories. A one-way ANOVA was performed to test whether developmental phase was related to age. Results from the ANOVA show that developmental phase is significantly related to age (P <.0001). An ordinal logistic regression was conducted to examine whether developmental phase could be used to predict age. The results of the logistic regression suggest that developmental phase is an accurate indicator of age (P <.0001, df = 1, Chi-Squared = 537.2428); however, the age ranges can be wide and should be used with other established methods of age estimation. 5 figures and 3 tables (publisher abstract modified)