An assessment of the subjectivity of sperm scoring

Shanan S. Tobe, Lynn Dennany, Marielle Vennemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Current histological investigation of vaginal swabs after alleged sexual assault includes the scoring of spermatozoa (0, + to ++++) and the recording of visible tails. It is a method that is universally employed. Despite this method being used for 40 years, there has never been a study investigating its suitability for forensic science. Here, we investigate the reproducibility and subjectivity of sperm scoring among different investigators. Dilutions of seminal fluid were randomly distributed onto 20 slides, stained with haematoxylin/eosin and assessed by 37 investigators, over 2 years. Slides were assessed for levels of spermatozoa and the presence of tails. Each slide was scored by a minimum of 25 investigators. On no slide was there a consensus between all scores. Standard deviation remained below 1, but relative standard deviation (RSD) ranged from 6 to 105% in a positive correlation as the average score decreased. Spermatozoa were not observed 56 times (9.6%) and 27 investigators (73%) did not observe spermatozoa on at least one slide. Spermatozoa with tails were observed on every slide by at least 10 examiners, but as the average score of the slide decreased, so did the observation of tails. The current sperm scoring method is highly subjective with a particularly high %RSD in slides with low overall sperm counts. Moreover, the recording of tails does not add value to the current technique of sperm scoring. Further research might improve the objectivity of sperm scoring and the reliability of recording of tails.

LanguageEnglish
Pages83-86
Number of pages4
JournalForensic Science International
Volume251
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2015

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Spermatozoa
Research Personnel
Forensic Sciences
Oligospermia
Hematoxylin
Eosine Yellowish-(YS)
Research Design
Observation
Research

Keywords

  • sperm scoring
  • sexual assaults
  • spermatozoa
  • seminal fluid

Cite this

Tobe, Shanan S. ; Dennany, Lynn ; Vennemann, Marielle. / An assessment of the subjectivity of sperm scoring. In: Forensic Science International. 2015 ; Vol. 251. pp. 83-86.
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An assessment of the subjectivity of sperm scoring. / Tobe, Shanan S.; Dennany, Lynn; Vennemann, Marielle.

In: Forensic Science International, Vol. 251, 24.03.2015, p. 83-86.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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