Background: Accurate skeletal maturity assessment is important to guide clinical evaluation of idiopathic scoliosis, but commonly used methods are inadequate or too complex for rapid clinical use. The objective of the study was to propose a new simplified staging method, called the thumb ossification composite index (TOCI), based on the ossification pattern of the 2 thumb epiphyses and the adductor sesamoid bone; to determine its accuracy in predicting skeletal maturation when compared with the Sanders simplified skeletal maturity system (SSMS); and to validate its interrater and intrarater reliability.
Methods: Hand radiographs of 125 girls, acquired when they were newly diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis prior to menarche and during longitudinal follow-up until skeletal maturity (a minimum of 4 years), were scored with the TOCI and SSMS. These scores were compared with digital skeletal age (DSA) and radius, ulna, and small hand bones (RUS) scores; anthropometric data; peak height velocity; and growth-remaining profiles. Correlations were analyzed with the chi-square test, Spearman and Cramer V correlation methods, and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Reliability analysis using the intraclass correlation (ICC) was conducted.
Results: Six hundred and forty-five hand radiographs (average, 5 of each girl) were scored. The TOCI staging system was highly correlated with the DSA and RUS scores (r = 0.93 and 0.92, p < 0.01). The mean peak height velocity (and standard deviation) was 7.43 ± 1.45 cm/yr and occurred at a mean age of 11.9 ± 0.86 years, with 70.1% and 51.4% of the subjects attaining their peak height velocity at TOCI stage 5 and SSMS stage 3, respectively. The 2 systems predicted peak height velocity with comparable accuracy, with a strong Cramer V association (0.526 and 0.466, respectively; p < 0.01) and similar sensitivity and specificity on receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. The mean age at menarche was 12.57 ± 1.12 years, with menarche occurring over several stages in both the TOCI and the SSMS. The growth remaining predicted by TOCI stage 8 matched well with that predicted by SSMS stage 7, with a mean of <2 cm/yr of growth potential over a mean of <1.7 years at these stages. The TOCI also demonstrated excellent reliability, with an overall ICC of >0.97.
Conclusions: The new proposed TOCI could provide a simplified staging system for the assessment of skeletal maturity of subjects with idiopathic scoliosis. The index needs to be subjected to further multicenter validation in different ethnic groups.