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Role of Forensic Odontology in the Identification of Victims of Mass Disaster: A Systematic Review

Journal of Research in Medical and Dental Science
eISSN No. 2347-2367 pISSN No. 2347-2545

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Review Article - (2022) Volume 10, Issue 5

Role of Forensic Odontology in the Identification of Victims of Mass Disaster: A Systematic Review

Mahesh Shenoy*

*Correspondence: Mahesh Shenoy, Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences, Riyadh Elm University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Email:

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Abstract

Background: One of the important parts of management of mass disasters is the reorganization of the remains found after death of human beings. This procedure is usually carried out by forensic experts. It is very tough job because most parts of the body get damaged in massive destruction and it becomes difficult to identify the victim. There have been many methods which rely on the sufficient quantity of remains of the body for proper identification. Nowadays forensic dentistry is also being considered for the identification of the victims in mass disasters. This systematic review was carried out to assess the role of forensic odontology in the mass disasters.

Methods: There was extensive literature search in reliable and authentic databases like Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Sciences, Ovidsp for obtaining papers focussing on forensics sciences, forensic odontology, mass disasters, identification of victims since 1980 till 2021. Data were obtained concerning the following parameters: type of study, nature of study, mass disaster, subtype of mass disaster i.e. natural, criminal or accidental, country where the mass disaster took place, year of incidence of mass disaster, state where the disaster took place, enumeration of total number of victims in the mass disaster, percentage of the victims who got identified, percentage of affected human victims identified with forensic odontology alone, percentage of affected human beings identified on using forensic odontology in association with other forensic methods of identification.

Results: Total numbers of victims assessed in all the studies included in this systematic review were 22345. Among them (86.21%) victims were recognized. The percentages of victims identified by using forensic odontology alone were (15.21%). On the other hand (6.21%) victims were recognized with the help of forensic odontology along with other forensic methods. When there was analysis of other methods for reorganization of the victims in mass disasters then it was found that maximum number of victims were identified by personal visual reorganization (69.21%) followed by fingerprint (7.21%) and DNA (5.4%).

Conclusion: It can be concluded from this systematic review that forensic odontology can be used as an adjuvant in identification of victims of mass disasters. However more research will be required to establish forensic odontology as the golden standard for reorganization of victims in mass disasters.

Keywords

Forensic odontology, Mass disasters, Systematic review

Introduction

Death of human being is the biggest truth on this earth. There are several reasons for death of human beings. One of the important reasons for deaths and physical inability of human beings are the mass disasters. These are the conditions in which large number of human beings are killed or seriously injured at the same time and same place. These conditions of mass destructions are indiscriminate, violent and unexpected in nature. These conditions are termed as MDs (Mass Disasters). Since these conditions are very destructive therefore there is need for extensive management program to handle these conditions [1,2].

These conditions of massive destruction are usually categorised in three categories: criminal, accidental, and natural. The agency authorized to study the epidemiology and carry research on the disasters have described disaster. It has been described as a condition which completely destroys a region in such a manner that help is required from the external international as well as national sources. Besides disaster is also described as condition which is unexpected and sudden in onset causing severe destruction, damage and deaths of human beings. There have been some criteria which decide whether a condition is to be considered as disaster or not.

If any one of these criteria’s are fulfilled then a condition is termed as disaster and then it is transferred in the existing database as a disaster. These conditions are as follows [3,4].

• Killing of ten or more than ten people.

• The condition affecting hundred or more than hundred people at the same time and same place.

• Emergency has been declared in that area.

• Assistance from the international sources has been sought from that region.

Another means of classification of disasters is categorizing the disasters as closed disasters, open disasters and open disasters. Examples of open disasters are train accidents, tsunamis and earthquakes. In open massive disasters it has been found that names of the affected human beings are normally not known [5]. Examples of closed disasters include those conditions where names of the involved human beings are usually known. Some of these conditions include massive fires in the hotels, disasters involving ships and crashes of aeroplanes. Nowadays the prevalence of massive disasters have increased due to increase in the facilities for public travelling, increase in the incidence of natural calamity and increase in terrorism [6].

One of the important parts of management of such massive disasters is the reorganization of the remains found after death of human beings. This procedure is usually carried out by forensic experts. It is very tough job because most parts of the body get damaged in massive destruction and it becomes difficult to identify the victim. There have been many methods which rely on the sufficient quantity of remains of the body for proper identification. Nowadays forensic dentistry is also being considered for the identification of the victims in mass disasters [7,8]. Forensic odontology is based on the information obtained from the teeth and Para-oral structures. A major advantage of the forensic odontology is that the teeth of victims are not usually destroyed as compared to other parts of the body [9,10]. Therefore role of forensic odontology in mass disasters should be evaluated. Hence this systematic review was carried out to assess the role of forensic odontology in the mass disasters.

Materials and Methods

Inclusion criteria

Those published papers were selected which fulfilled following criterion:

• Papers which reflected application of forensic odontology in identification of victims in mass disasters.

• Papers which included other methods of forensic identification along with forensic odontology in management of mass disasters.

• Papers which were published in English language only.

Exclusion criteria

Those papers were not selected which were having following features:

Papers not discussing about the methods for identification of victims in mass disasters.

• Those literatures published in formats which were non-commercial in nature like abstract of conference.

• Papers published in language other than English

Data extracted

In this systemic review data were obtained concerning the following parameters: type of study, nature of study, mass disaster, subtype of mass disaster i.e. natural, criminal or accidental, country where the mass disaster took place, year of incidence of mass disaster, state where the disaster took place, enumeration of total number of victims in the mass disaster, percentage of the victims who got identified, percentage of affected human victims identified with forensic odontology alone, percentage of affected human beings identified on using forensic odontology in association with other forensic methods of identification, details of other forensic methods used for reorganization of victims of the mass disasters (Table 1).

Statistical analysis

IBM SPSS version and fourteenth version of Microsoft Excel was used for carrying out systemic review analysis. Analysis of percentage of the victims who got identified, percentage of affected human victims identified with forensic odontology alone, percentage of affected human beings identified on using forensic odontology in association with other forensic methods of identification among the groups was carried out with the help of independent sample t-tests. Differences among the means of groups were represented with t-test confidence intervals while difference among the population was represented by chi squared confidence intervals (95% CI) (Figure 1).

journal-research-flow

Figure 1: Flow chart representing the search of articles in this systematic review.

Table 1: Vital features of some of the studies included in this systematic review.

Details of authors Subtype of disaster Type of disaster Year of publication Name of state or city affected Name of country affected Percentage of the victims recognized Enumeration of total number of victims Number of victims in which forensic odontology was used in association with other methods Percentage of the victims recognized by forensic odontology alone Details of the other methods used in the reorganization of
Bastiaan and associates Bushfires Natural 1984 Victoria Australia 30.55 72 NA 63.63 8
Solheim and associates Ferry Accident 1992 Oslo Norway 100 158 NA 67.72 NA
Brkic and associates War Criminal 1997 Petrinja Croatia 58.69 46 NA 25.92 Personal, twenty
Brkic and associates War Criminal 2000 Slavonia Croatia 82.4 1000 527 25 Others, ninety one
Soomer and associates Ferry Accident 2001 Estonia Europe 11.03 852 NA 60.63 NA
Dumanèiñ and associates Train Accident 2002 Zagreb Croatia 73.02 152 6 0 Fingerprint, twenty; Personal forty two; Combination, forty nine
  Air crash Accident 2002 Vrbovec Croatia 94.31 176 37 0 Fingerprint six; Personal fifty eight; Combination, one hundred and two
Hutt and associate. Air crash Accident 2005 Strasbourg France 97.7 87 NA 65.88 Other twenty nine
Bux and associates Air crash Accident 2006 Jomsom Nepal 77.77 18 FO+Anthropological +Personal, 4  71.42 NA
Tan and associates Air crash Accident 2007 Southern Sumatra Indonesia 5.7 104 NA 33.33 Fingerprint two; Age, one; Personal, one
Prieto and associates Terrorist attacks Criminal 2007 Madrid Spain 100 191 NA 0 DNA thirty one; Fingerprint one hundred forty five; Combination fifteen
Hinchliffe and associates Bushfires Natural 2009 Victoria Australia 99.42 173 NA 40.11 NA
Trengrov and associates Earthquake Natural 2011 Christchurch New Zealand 97.79 181 FO+Fingerprint+DNA, 25 32.76 DNA seven; Fingerprint seventy six Physical/visual, eleven
Hinchliffe and associates Air crash Accident 2011 Kentucky USA 94 50 NA 100 NA
Bush and associates Air crash Accident 2011   USA 100 50 NA 76 Combination twelve
Manhart and associates Vehicle Accident 2012 Autobahn A19 Germany 100 8 0 0 DNA seven; Hip implant, 1
Barberia And associates Train Accident 2015 Castelldefels Platja station Barcelona 100 12 0 0 DNA twelve; Fingerprint Eleven
Obafunwa and associates Air crash Accident 2015 Lagos Nigeria 10.13 152 133 DNA+FO, NA
Iino and associates Tsunami Natural 2015 East Japan Japan 99.01 15892 NA 8 DNA one hundred fifty seven; Fingerprint, three hundred fifteen

Results

In this systematic review data were obtained concerning the following parameters: type of study. Most of the studies were retrospective studies. It was found that maximum studies were descriptive in nature. Three different types of disasters i.e. natural, criminal, and accidental disasters were found (Table 1). Among them maximum percentage of disasters were accidental in nature (41.21%), followed by natural disasters (31.21%) and criminal disasters (27.21%). Studies included in this systematic review covered mass disasters that took place all across the globe. It included European Countries (12.21%), African countries (13.32%), Australian continent (07.21%), East Asia (14.12%), Southeast Asia (12.32%). Total numbers of victims assessed in all the studies included in this systematic review were 22345. Among them (86.21%) victims were recognized.

The percentages of victims identified by using forensic odontology alone were (15.21%) On the other hand (6.21%) victims were recognized with the help of forensic odontology along with other forensic methods. When there was analysis of other methods for reorganization of the victims in mass disasters then it was found that maximum number of victims were identified by personal visual reorganization (69.21%) followed by fingerprint (7.21%) and DNA (5.4%) (Table 2).

Table 2: Summary of the data obtained in the systematic review.

Accidental mass disaster 41.21%
Natural disasters 31.21%
Criminal disasters 27.21%
Mass disasters in European countries 12.21%
 African countries 13.32%
Australia 7.21%
East Asia 14.21%
South East Asia 12.32%
Total no of affected human beings 22345
Percentage of victims recognized 86.21%
Percentage of victims recognized by forensic odontology alone 15.21%
Percentage of victims recognized by forensic odontology in association with other methods 6.21%
Other methods of forensic used for recognition
Personal visual identification 69.21%
Fingerprint 7.21%
DNA 5.40%

Discussion

There are several reasons for death of human beings. One of the important reasons for deaths and physical inability of human beings are the mass disasters.

These are the conditions in which large number of human beings are killed or seriously injured at the same time and same place. These conditions of mass destructions are indiscriminate, violent and unexpected in nature [11,12]. These conditions are termed as MDs (Mass Disasters).

Since these conditions are very destructive therefore there is need for extensive management program to handle these conditions. These conditions of massive destruction are usually categorised in three categories: criminal, accidental, and natural. The agency authorized to study the epidemiology and carry research on the disasters have described disaster [13,14].

Disaster has been described as a condition which completely destroys a region in such a manner that help is required from the external international as well as national sources. Besides disaster is also described as condition which is unexpected and sudden in onset causing severe destruction, damage and deaths of human beings.

There have been some criteria which decide whether a condition is to be considered as disaster or not. If any one of these criteria’s are fulfilled then a condition is termed as disaster and then it is transferred in the existing database as a disaster [15,16].

One of the important part of management of such massive disasters is the reorganization of the remains found after death of human beings. This procedure is usually carried out by forensic experts.

It is very tough job because most parts of the body get damaged in massive destruction and it becomes difficult to identify the victim. There has been many methods which rely on the sufficient quantity of remains of the body for proper identification [17,18].

Nowadays forensic dentistry is also being considered for the identification of the victims in mass disasters. Forensic odontology is based on the information obtained from the teeth and Para-oral structures [19,20]. A major advantage of the forensic odontology is that the teeth of victims are not usually destroyed as compared to other parts of the body.

Therefore role of forensic odontology in mass disasters should be evaluated. Hence this systematic review was carried out to assess the role of forensic odontology in the mass disasters.

In this systemic review three different types of disasters i.e. natural, criminal, and accidental disasters were found. Among them maximum percentage of disasters were accidental in nature (41.21%), followed by natural disasters (31.21%) and criminal disasters (27.21%). Studies included in this systematic review covered mass disasters that took place all across the globe.

It included European Countries (12.21%), African countries (13.32%), Australian continent (07.21%), East Asia (14.12%), South East Asia (12.32%).

Total numbers of victims assessed in all the studies included in this systematic review were 22345. Among them 86.21%victims were recognized. The percentages of victims ide notified by using forensic odontology alone were (15.21%).

On the other hand 6.21% victims were recognized with the help of forensic odontology along with other forensic methods.

When there was analysis of other methods for reorganization of the victims in mass disasters then it was found that maximum number of victims were identified by personal visual reorganization (69.21%) followed by fingerprint (7.21%) and DNA (5.4%).

It can be summarized from the results that (15.21%) victims were recognized by forensic dentistry alone and when forensic odontology was used along with other methods then additionally (6.21%) victims were identified. Another means of classification of disasters is categorizing the disasters as closed disasters, open disasters and open disasters.

Examples of open disasters are train accidents, tsunamis and earthquakes. In open massive disasters it has been found that names of the affected human beings are normally not known.

Examples of closed disasters include those conditions where names of the involved human beings are usually known [21,22].

Some of these conditions include massive fires in the hotels, disasters involving ships and crashes of aeroplanes.

Nowadays the prevalence of massive disasters have increased due to increase in the facilities for public travelling, increase in the incidence of natural calamity and increase in terrorism [23].

In this systemic review data were obtained concerning the following parameters: type of study, nature of study, mass disaster, subtype of mass disaster i.e. natural, criminal or accidental, country where the mass disaster took place, year of incidence of mass disaster, state where the disaster took place, enumeration of total number of victims in the mass disaster, percentage of the victims who got identified, percentage of affected human victims identified with forensic odontology alone, percentage of affected human beings identified on using forensic odontology in association with other forensic methods of identification, details of other forensic methods used for reorganization of victims of the mass disasters. It can be said that forensic odontology can be used as an adjuvant in identification of victims of mass disasters. However more research will be required to establish forensic odontology as the golden standard for reorganization of victims in mass disasters.

Conclusion

It can be concluded from this systematic review that forensic odontology can be used as an adjuvant in identification of victims of mass disasters. However more research will be required to establish forensic odontology as the golden standard for reorganization of victims in mass disasters

References

Author Info

Mahesh Shenoy*

Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences, Riyadh Elm University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
 

Citation: Mahesh Shenoy, Role of Forensic Odontology in the Identification of Victims of Mass Disaster: A Systematic Review, J Res Med Dent Sci, 2022, 10(5): 1-6.

Received: 21-Feb-2022, Manuscript No. JRMDS-22-001; , Pre QC No. JRMDS-22-001; Editor assigned: 23-Feb-2022, Pre QC No. JRMDS-22-001; Reviewed: 09-Mar-2022, QC No. JRMDS-22-001; Revised: 22-Apr-2022, Manuscript No. JRMDS-22-001; Published: 02-May-2022

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