How is an accurate and reliable height assessment determined in the evaluation of short stature?

Updated: Jan 06, 2021
  • Author: Sunil Kumar Sinha, MD; Chief Editor: Robert P Hoffman, MD  more...
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Endocrinologists rely heavily on accurate and reliable height assessment.

  • Measure standing height in triplicate using a calibrated wall-mounted stadiometer.

    • Although no particular brand is endorsed, one well-accepted device is available from Harpenden Ltd of Wales (see image below).

      Proper use of a wall-mounted stadiometer. Proper use of a wall-mounted stadiometer.
    • In infants, length is determined in triplicate using a tabletop recumbent stadiometer.

    • The mean value of the triplicate data serves as the true measurement.

  • In children who cannot completely stand or recline (eg, those with spina bifida, those with contractures), arm span provides a reliable alternative for longitudinal assessment of long bone growth.

    • Ascertain arm span by facing the child against a flat firm surface (usually the wall), fully extending the arms, and measuring the maximal distance between the tips of the middle fingers.

    • If this positioning is physically impossible, a flexible tape measure may be rolled along the dorsal aspect of the arms and upper back to determine arm span.

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