Bone age estimation with the Greulich-Pyle atlas using 3T MR images of hand and wrist
Authors: Widek T, Genet P, Ehammer T, Schwark T, Urschler M, Scheurer E
The age estimation of the hand bones by means of X-ray examination is a pillar of the forensic age estimation. Since the associated radiation exposure is controversial, the search for ionizing radiation-free alternatives such as MRI is part of forensic research. The aim of the current study was to use the Greulich-Pyle (GP) atlas on MR images of the hand and wrist to provide reference values for assessing the age of the hand bones. 3T hand MR images of 238 male participants between the ages of 13 and 21 were acquired using 3D gradient echo sequences (VIBE, DESS). Two readers rated the images using the X-ray-based GP atlas method. A descriptive analysis and a transitional analysis were used for the statistical processing of the data. The agreement between and within the raters was assessed. In addition, a comparison was made with the chronological age and with X-ray studies. The descriptive analysis and the transition analysis showed similar results. Both evaluations showed good agreement with X-ray studies. The comparison with the chronological age showed a difference of 0.37 and 0.54 years for the two readers. The age estimate based on the cross-validated transition analysis showed a mean error of −0.28 years. Inter- and intra-rater agreement were good. In summary, it can be concluded that age estimation of hand bones with MR images is routinely applicable with the GP atlas as an alternative without ionizing radiation. However, in order to reduce the estimation error, a multi-factorial assessment based on examinations of several body regions is still recommended.