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Age assessment by the Greulich and Pyle method compared to other skeletal X-ray and dental methods in data from Finnish child victims of the Southeast Asian Tsunami.

  • Varkkola, Olli
  • Ranta, Helena
  • Metsäniitty, Mari
  • Sajantila, Antti
Published Article
Forensic science, medicine, and pathology
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2011
DOI: 10.1007/s12024-010-9173-x
PMID: 21337038


The validity of the age assessment method based on the "Radiographic Atlas of Skeletal Development of the Hand and Wrist" by Greulich and Pyle (1st edition 1950) has been frequently questioned. The purpose of this study was to examine the reliability of this widely used method and to compare it to various dental and other skeletal age assessment methods. Forty-seven Finnish children of known ages below 16 years, who perished in Thailand in the Southeast Asian Tsunami on 26 December 2004 were examined. Every victim repatriated to Finland underwent a complete forensic autopsy including CT-scan, toxicological screening, and diatom analysis in order to establish the cause of death, as well as DNA testing and dental examination for the verification of the identification established in Thailand. Age assessment was performed by dental and skeletal methods. The average difference between the age assessment values obtained by the Greulich and Pyle method, and the chronological age was 9.7 months. In addition to the Greulich and Pyle method, an alternate skeletal method, Tanner and Whitehouse 2, resulted in an average age difference of 10.3 months. Dental age assessment methods were based either on the eruption (Nyström method, 8 cases, average age difference 5.6 months), or the development of the crown and roots (Demirjian method, 33 cases, average age difference 5.2 months and ABFO method, 7 cases, average differences 12.6 months). Dental methods proved to be most accurate in childhood until the teeth-with the exception of wisdom teeth-have erupted and root development is completed. In adolescence, however, the validity of skeletal methods improves considerably.

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