The use of radiographic imaging in the estimation of chronological age facilitates the analysis of structures not visible on gross morphological inspection. Following the completion of epiphyseal fusion, a thin radio-opaque band, the epiphyseal scar, may be observed at the locus of the former growth plate. The obliteration of this feature has previously been interpreted as the final stage of skeletal maturation and consequently has been included as a criterion in several methods of age estimation, particularly from the distal radius. Due to the recommendations relating to age estimation in living individuals, accurate assessment of age from the distal radius is of great importance in human identification; however, the validity of the interpretation of the obliteration of the epiphyseal scar as an age-related process has not been tested. A study was undertaken to assess the persistence of epiphyseal scars in adults between 20 and 50 years of age through the assessment of 616 radiographs of left and right distal radii from a cross-sectional population. This study found that 86 % of females and 78 % of males retained some remnant of the epiphyseal scar in the distal radius. The relationships between chronological age, biological sex and the persistence of the epiphyseal scar were not statistically significant. The findings of this study indicate that the epiphyseal scars may persist in adult individuals until at least 50 years of age. No maximum age should therefore be applied to the persistence of an epiphyseal scar in the distal radius.
- Age estimation
- Epiphyseal scar
- Forensic anthropology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine