A New Look at the Sequential Development of Elbow-Ossification Centers in Children

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SummaryThe pattern and sequence of ossification of the six secondary ossification centers around the elbow in the child were mainly derived from studies done>30 years ago. This series reexamined the sequence and pattern based on a cross-sectional study of the elbow radiographs of 1,577 Chinese children with elbow injuries; age range, from newborn to 17 years. The ratio of girls to boys was 1:2. Each child had a radiograph of the normal and the injured elbow giving a total of 3,154 radiographs. A percentile chart of ossification was constructed for each of the ossification centers in both sexes for easy reference. No differences in the timing and ossification pattern were found between the right and left elbow or between the normal and injured elbow in this study. The sequence of ossification in both boys and girls was found to be the same (i.e., the capitulum first, followed by the radial head, medial epicondyle, olecranon, trochlea, and last, the lateral epicondyle). The ages at which 50% of the girls were found to have positive radiologic ossification for each of these centers were ages 1, 5, 5, 9, 9, and 10 years, respectively. In boys, with the exception of the capitulum, an average delay of 2 years was found in each of the ossification centers, although the sequence remained similar.

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