The ability to estimate skeletal maturity using a knee radiograph would be useful in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and limb-length discrepancy in immature patients. Currently, a quick, accurate, and reproducible method is lacking.
Serial knee radiographs made 3 years before to 2 years following the chronologic age associated with 90% of final height (an enhanced skeletal maturity gold standard compared with peak height velocity) were analyzed in 78 children. The Pyle and Hoerr (PH) knee method was simplified by developing discrete stages for the distal part of the femur, the proximal part of the tibia, the proximal part of the fibula, and the patella. The Roche-Wainer-Thissen (RWT) knee method was simplified from the 36 original parameters to 14 parameters by removing parameters that were poorly defined, were not relevant to the peripubertal age range, were poorly correlated with 90% final height, or were poorly reliable on a 20-radiograph pilot analysis. We also compared the recently described central peak value (CPV) of the distal part of the femur. The Greulich and Pyle (GP) left-hand bone age was included for comparison.
In this study, 326 left knee radiographs from 41 girls (age range, 7 to 15 years) and 37 boys (age range, 9 to 17 years) were included. Stepwise linear regression showed higher correlation in predicting years from 90% final height using the modified RWT and demographic characteristics (R2 = 0.921) compared with demographic characteristics alone (R2 = 0.840), CPV and demographic characteristics (R2 = 0.866), GP and demographic characteristics (R2 = 0.899), and PH and demographic characteristics (R2 = 0.902). Seven parameters were excluded from the RWT and demographic characteristics model using stepwise linear regression and generalized estimating equations analysis, leaving 7 parameters (2 femoral, 4 tibial, and 1 fibular) in the final model. Compared with RWT and demographic characteristics (R2 = 0.921), there were minimal incremental increases by adding CPV (R2 = 0.921), GP (R2 = 0.925), or PH (R2 = 0.931).
This large analysis of knee skeletal maturity systems isolated 7 discrete radiographic knee parameters that theoretically outperform the GP bone age in estimating skeletal maturity.
We present a modified knee skeletal maturity system that can potentially preclude the need for additional imaging of the hand and wrist in reliably estimating skeletal maturity.