A 2-year follow-up MRI study for the evaluation of an age estimation method based on knee bone development

  • Markus Auf der Mauer
  • Dennis Säring
  • Ben Stanczus
  • Jochen Herrmann
  • Michael Groth
  • Eilin Jopp-van Well
Original Article


Age estimation is an actual topic in the area of forensic medicine with a special focus on the age limits of 16 and 18 years. Current research on this topic relies on retrospective data of inhomogeneous populations relating to sex, age range, and socioeconomic status. In this work, we present a 2-year follow-up study for the evaluation of an age estimation method on a prospective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) knee data collective of a homogeneous population. The study includes 40 male subjects from northern Germany aged 14 to 21 years. Three MRI examinations were evenly acquired within 2 years for each subject. As a first evaluation, a three-stage system was used to assess the ossification status of the knee (I:“open”, II:“partially ossified”, III:“fully ossified”). Three raters assessed the growth plate of the distal femur, proximal tibia, and proximal fibula based on central 2D slices. A good inter-rater agreement was attained (κ = 0.84). All subjects younger than 18 years were rated as stage I and had a cumulative knee score (SKJ) ≤ 5. Based on the follow-up datasets, new parameters quantifying the intra-individual ossification process were calculated. The results of this follow-up analysis show a different start, end, and speed of each growth plate’s maturation as well as an ossification peak for individuals at the age of 16. The generated MRI database provides new insights into the ossification process over time and serves as a basis for further evaluations of age estimation methods.


Age estimation Follow-up study MRI Knee Growth plates Ossification 


Funding information

This project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Project (SA 2530/6-1) and (JO 1198/2-1).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

An ethical approval for this study was granted by the Ethics Committee of the Medical Association Hamburg (PV4527). The director of this study had full control of the data and the material submitted for publication.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects in this study.

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical and Industrial Image ProcessingUniversity of Applied Sciences of WedelWedelGermany
  2. 2.Pediatric Radiology DepartmentUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)HamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)HamburgGermany

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