The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

The progression of vertebral osteoporosis: correlations between vertebral pathological conditions and sociodemographic risk factors


1Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, 2Anthropology, Boston University

April 12, 2018 , Zilker 1/2/3 Add to calendar

This study examines the possible correlations between vertebral osteoporosis, spondylolysis, Schmorl’s nodes, vertebral osteoarthritis, osteophytosis, and laminal spurs. Further, this study examines the effects of sex, age, ancestry, and occupation on the vertebral pathologies. A total of 238 individuals (54 African Americans and 184 randomly selected European Americans) from the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were analyzed. Vertebral pathologies and anomalies were assessed using visual morphometric scoring methods outlined in previous research. It is hypothesized that positive correlations exist between osteoporosis and other vertebral pathologies and a positive correlation exists between vertebral pathologies and strenuous occupations. It is also hypothesized that there is a difference in the prevalence of vertebral pathologies between European American and African American ancestries due to African Americans generally showing higher bone mineral density than European Americans. The results of this research demonstrate numerous relationships: males are correlated with osteoarthritis, and Schmorl’s nodes, while females correlated with spondylolisthesis (p-value of 0.001); European Americans are correlated with osteophytosis, Schmorl’s nodes, and laminal spurs, while African Americans correlated with osteoarthritis; individuals 40 years or older are correlated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, Schmorl’s nodes, osteophytosis, and laminal spurs; and lastly, labor intensive occupations (for example, a construction worker) are correlated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, osteophytosis, Schmorl’s nodes, and laminal spurs, with all p-values less than 0.05. This research demonstrates how pathological conditions correlate with sociodemographic risk factors, which can help with the identification process of skeletal remains in an archaeological and forensic frameworks.