Bone age assessment

Last revised by Jeremy Jones on 29 Sep 2021

Bone age assessment is used to radiologically assess the biological and structural maturity of immature patients from their hand and wrist x-ray appearances. It forms an important part of the diagnostic and management pathway in children with growth and endocrine disorders. It is helpful in the diagnosis of various growth disorders and can provide a prediction of final height for patients presenting with short stature.

Bone age can also be used to monitor children on growth hormone therapy or those presenting in delayed or advanced stages of puberty that may need treatment.


Assessment is performed with a radiograph of the non-dominant hand with a single DP view that includes the distal radius and ulna and all the fingers. Appearances of the carpal bonesmetacarpal, phalanges, radius, and ulna are compared to standardized versions in one of two main atlases:

In addition, software tools are available to automate the task of bone age assessment. In 2017, the RSNA held a machine learning challenge to automate bone age assessment. The winning model achieved a mean absolute difference from the gold-standard (the average of a panel of pediatric radiologists) of 4.265 months 4

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