Volume 40, Issue 4 (July 1995)
Stages of Epiphyseal Union for Thoracic and Lumbar Vertebral Centra as a Method of Age Determination for Teenage and Young Adult Skeletons
Many current methods of age determination available to forensic anthropologists are limiting in that the age ranges provided are often broad, particularly for individuals in their late teens to early 20's. This study introduces an improved method for aging teenagers and young adults. The pattern and stages of union of the superior and inferior epiphyses of the vertebral centra (or ring epiphyses) were examined in 55 individuals, females and males, black and white, between ages 11 and 32 years.
Vertebral ring epiphyseal union was found to be a good predictor of age. The correlation between stages of union and known age was 0.78 (P < .0001). The standard deviation was 2.566 years at the 99.9% confidence level. Sex differences were observed, but were not statistically significant. A larger sample size may perhaps demonstrate statistically significant differences in sex, and may or may not yield differences in race. A preliminary interobserver bias test showed high replicability. Results of this study compare favorably with results of other aging studies.
Current age information for the progress of vertebral ring epiphyseal union is supplied for young males—and for the first time—females. This improved aging method provides necessary corroborative information for use with observations from other skeletal age indicators. Data collected from epiphyseal union of the vertebral centra aid in lessening the gap for early adult age determination.