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Reproducibility and inter-observer agreement of Greulich-Pyle protocol to estimate skeletal age among female adolescent soccer players

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posted on 17.11.2020, 16:28 by Yuri V Faustino-da-Silva, Diogo V Martinho, Manuel J Coelho-e-Silva, João Valente-dos-Santos, Jorge Conde, Tomás G Oliveira, Enio RV Ronque, Ricardo R Agostinete, Rômulo A Fernandes, Lauren Sherar
Background: Skeletal age (SA) is considered the best method of assessing biological maturation. The aim of this study was to determine intra-observer (reproducibility) and inter-observer agreement of SA values obtained via the Greulich-Pyle (GP) method. In addition, the variation in calculated SAs by alternative GP protocols was examined. Methods: The sample was composed of 100 Portuguese female soccer players aged 12.0–16.7 years. SAs were determined using the GP method by two observers (OB1: experience < 100 exams using GP; OB2: experience > 2000 exams using several methods). The radiographs were examined using alternative GP protocols: (wholeGP) the plate was matched to the atlas as an overall approach; (30-boneGP) bone-by-bone inspections of 30-bones; (GPpmb) bone-by-bone inspections of the pre-mature bones only. For the 30-boneGP and GPpmb approaches, SA was calculated via the mean (M) and the median (Md). Results: Reproducibility ranged 82–100% and 88–100% for OB1 and OB2, respectively. Inter-observer agreement (100 participants multiplied by 30 bones) was 92.1%. For specific bones, agreement rates less than 90% were found for scaphoid (81%), medial phalange V (83%), trapezium (84%) and metacarpal V (87%). Differences in wholeGP SAs obtained by the two observers were moderate (d-cohen was 0.79). Mean differences between observers when using bone-by bone SAs were trivial (30-boneGP: d-cohen less than 0.05; GPpmb: d-cohen less than 0.10). The impact of using the mean or the median was negligible, particularly when analyses did not include bones scored as mature. Conclusion: The GP appeared to be a reasonably reproducible method to assess SA and inter-observer agreement was acceptable. There is evidence to support a recommendation of only scoring pre-mature bones during later adolescence. Further research is required to examine whether these findings are consistent in younger girls and in boys.


Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth [IPDJ/FCDEF.UC/2017-01]

São Paulo Foundation FAPESP [2018/09230–2; 2019/15959–8]

Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology [SFRH/BD/121441/2016]



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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BMC Pediatrics




BioMed Central


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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by BioMed Central under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Dr Lauren Sherar. Deposit date: 16 November 2020

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