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Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Apr 10;217(1-3):232.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.11.013. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Age assessment by magnetic resonance imaging of the knee: a preliminary study.

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Service de Médecine Légale, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Rangueil, Avenue du Professeur Jean Poulhès, 31403 Toulouse Cedex 4, France.


The authors developed an original magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) staging system for epiphyseal fusion of growth plate maturation of the knee and evaluated its reliability and validity for age assessment of living individuals. A total of 290 MRI scans of the knee were reviewed retrospectively in patients aged from 10 to 30 years old (138 males, 152 females). Five original MRI stages were defined to assess the degree of maturation of the distal femoral and proximal tibial epiphyses. Intra-observer variability was excellent and inter-observer variability was good, demonstrating the reliability and the validity of this original MRI staging system. In both sexes, the changes of growth plates (proximal tibial or distal femoral) were associated with age (p<0.001). Our results agreed with classic data on skeletal maturation of the knee, with globally earlier maturation in females than in males, and also earlier maturation of the proximal tibial epiphysis than of the distal femoral epiphysis. MRI of the knee is an efficient non-invasive method of age assessment, without the disadvantage of X-ray exposure. Further studies with larger groups are needed to support our results.

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