The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

An example of ischiopubic hypoplasia in medieval Nubia


Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University

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The objective of this presentation is to differentially diagnose an anomalous, bilateral non-fusion of the ischiopubic rami of a young adult female skeleton. This individual is one of 408 medieval period skeletons excavated from Mis Island, Sudan by The Sudan Archaeological Research Society and the British Museum. This Nubian skeletal collection is on loan to Michigan State University for research and documentation.

Fusion of the ischiopubic synchondrosis is typically complete between five and eight years of age. However, this individual is undoubtedly a young adult: long bone epiphyses are fully fused, mandibular third molars are erupted, and the first and second sacral bodies have fused.

The opposing surfaces of the unfused rami are rough, porous, and flared at the articular surfaces. This ossific pattern more closely resembles a pseudoarthrosis than the ridges and furrows of a typical epiphyseal surface. In addition, the bones of this individual are diminutive which may suggest a systemic pathological disease. Given the available skeletal evidence, we propose that this bilateral anomaly of the pelvis is the result of congenitally delayed ossification, known as ischiopubic hypoplasia.

Based upon a review of modern clinical literature, ischiopubic hypoplasia is the incomplete fusion between the ischium and the pubis. It is considered a non-specific finding since it is typically associated with other syndromes or disorders (Eich et al. 1992; Sferopoulos and Tsitouridis 2003). Due to its rarity, this is a significant discovery and a unique contribution to the bioarchaeology of the region.

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