Age estimation by magnetic resonance imaging of the distal tibial epiphysis and the calcaneum
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- Saint-Martin, P., Rérolle, C., Dedouit, F. et al. Int J Legal Med (2013) 127: 1023. doi:10.1007/s00414-013-0844-5
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Age estimation of living individuals is of critical importance in forensic practice, especially because of the increased migration in developed countries. Recently, the contribution of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to age evaluation has been studied, as it seems to be an efficient technique to analyze growth plate maturation and epiphyseal fusion. We developed an MRI staging system for the distal tibial epiphysis and the calcaneal epiphysis and evaluated its reliability on 180 MRI scans of the ankle and foot in a sample of individuals aged from 8 to 25 years old. For both bones, the degree of union between the metaphysis and epiphysis was classified in three stages. Intra- and inter-observer variabilities were good, showing the validity and reproducibility of the method. Our results were consistent with data in the literature indicating that both epiphyses mature earlier in females than in males. Bayesian predictive probabilities were used to assess the validity of our method in estimating the age of an individual in relation to the 18-year threshold. MRI of the ankle and foot can be used in association with other methods to estimate age in living individuals.