An update of the statistical methods underlying the FELS method of skeletal maturity assessment.
ABSTRACT Abstract Background: Evaluation of skeletal maturity provides clinicians and researchers a window into the developmental progress of the skeleton. The FELS method for maturity assessment provides a point estimate and standard error based on 98 skeletal indicators. Aim: This paper outlines the statistical methodology used by the original FELS method and evaluates improvements that address the following: serial correlation in the calibration sample is now considered, a Bayesian estimation method is now employed to improve estimation near ages 0 and 18 years and uncertainty in the calibration due to sampling is now accounted for when computing confidence limits. Subjects and methods: The original FELS method was calibrated using 677 Fels Longitudinal Study participants. In the improved method, serial correlation is accounted for using GEE, a Bayesian analysis with a prior centred on chronological age is used and the bootstrap is used to account for all sources of variation. Results: Accounting for serial correlation resulted in larger slopes for ordinal indicators. The Bayesian paradigm led to narrower confidence limits and a natural interpretation of skeletal age. Sampling variability in the calibration parameters was negligible. Conclusion: Improvements to the statistical basis of the FELS method provide a more effective method of estimating skeletal maturity.
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ABSTRACT: Paediatricians, radiologists, anthropologists and medico-legal specialists are often called as experts in order to provide age estimation (AE) for forensic purposes. The literature recommends performing the X-rays of the left hand and wrist (HW-XR) for skeletal age estimation. The method most frequently employed is the Greulich and Pyle (GP) method. In addition, the so-called bone-specific techniques are also applied including the method of Tanner Whitehouse (TW) in the latest versions TW2 and TW3. To compare skeletal age and chronological age in a large sample of children and adolescents using GP, TW2 and TW3 methods in order to establish which of these is the most reliable for forensic purposes. The sample consisted of 307 HW-XRs of Italian children or adolescents, 145 females and 162 males aged between 6 and 20 years. The radiographies were scored according to the GP, TW2RUS and TW3RUS methods by one investigator. The results' reliability was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficient. Wilcoxon signed-rank test and Student t-test were performed to search for significant differences between skeletal and chronological ages. The distributions of the differences between estimated and chronological age, by means of boxplots, show how median differences for TW3 and GP methods are generally very close to 0. Hypothesis tests' results were obtained, with respect to the sex, both for the entire group of individuals and people grouped by age. Results show no significant differences among estimated and chronological age for TW3 and, to a lesser extent, GP. The TW2 proved to be the worst of the three methods. Our results support the conclusion that the TW2 method is not reliable for AE for forensic purpose. The GP and TW3 methods have proved to be reliable in males. For females, the best method was found to be TW3. When performing forensic age estimation in subjects around 14 years of age, it could be advisable to use and associate the TW3 and GP methods.Forensic science international 03/2014; 238C:83-90. DOI:10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.02.030 · 2.12 Impact Factor