The Discovery of Child's Bone Age Test
By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic
As children grow very rapidly the first two years of life followed by a period of more moderate growth during their childhood years. They have another growth spurt during the teenage years as they approach puberty. This is reflected by a rapid weight and height gain.
A bone age test helps doctor to estimate the maturity of a child’s skeletal system. He does this by taking a single X-ray of the left wrist, hand, and fingers. The bones on the X-ray image are compared with X-ray images in a standard atlas of bone development. The atlas is based on data from many other kids of the same gender and age. The bone age (also called the skeletal age) is measured in years.
Children’s bones have areas of new bone growth called growth plates at both ends. They add length and width to the bone. They can be seen on an X-ray because they’re softer and contain less mineral, making them appear darker on an X-ray image than the rest of the bone.
Bones and growth plates change over time. As kids grow, their growth plates look thinner on X-rays and eventually disappear (called “closed growth plates”). Our Specialist assign a child’s bone age based on which standard X-ray images in the atlas most closely match how the child’s bones look on the X-ray.
A difference between a child’s bone age and their chronological age might indicate a growth problem. But perfectly healthy kids also can have bone ages that differ from their actual ages.
Why consider Bone Age Test?
Bone age test can help evaluate how fast or slowly a child’s skeleton is maturing, which can help our doctor to diagnose conditions that delay or accelerate physical growth and development.
Bone age can be used to predict:
- how much time a child will be growing
- when a child will enter puberty
- what the child’s ultimate height will be
The test is also used to monitor progress and guide treatment of kids with conditions that affect growth, including:
- diseases that affect the levels of hormones involved in growth, such as growth hormone deficiency, hypothyroidism, precocious puberty
- genetic growth disorders
- orthopaedic or orthodontic problems in which the timing and type of treatment (surgery, bracing, etc.) must be guided by the child’s predicted growth
“For a child to grow well, he needs a balanced diet. Chronic illnesses or hormone deficiencies need to be identified and adequately treated. “
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How is Bone Age Test being done?
Our Bone Specialist will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He may also ask about your family’s health history. He will give your child a physical exam. Your child’s health and growth may be checked over several months.
Your child may also have tests, such as:
- Blood tests. These are done to check for hormone, chromosomal, or other disorders that can cause growth problems.
- X-ray. This test uses a small amount of radiation to make images of tissues inside the body. An X-ray may be done of the left hand and wrist. This can estimate your child’s bone age. With delayed puberty or hormone problems, bone age is often less than calendar age.
Possible treatment methods to consider?
Many conditions that cause growth problems can be managed or corrected with medical treatment. Treatment for growth problems will be based on:
- What may be causing the growth problem
- How severe the problem is
- The child’s current health and health history
- Child’s ability to deal with medical procedures and take medicines
- The parents’ wishes about treatment