Radiographically recognizable? An investigation into the appearance of osteomalacic pseudofractures
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Pseudofractures, lucent bands that occur due to a build-up of osteoid, are a key feature of osteomalacia. In paleopathology, pseudofractures are often marked by small, linear cracks in the cortex of the bone surrounded by irregular, bony spicule formation. Radiography can be used to help diagnose pseudofractures, both clinically and in paleopathology. A detailed understanding of the radiographic appearance of pseudofractures and their development is, therefore, necessary to aid a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency. The present study examined the clinical literature to determine current ideas on the appearance of pseudofractures with the aim of applying this knowledge to paleopathology. A radiographic study of the characteristics of pseudofractures was performed on five individuals with clear skeletal features of osteomalacia from archaeological sites in Canada and the United Kingdom dating to the medieval period (5th to 15th centuries) and the 18th to 19th century. Results show that the radiographic appearance of pseudofractures could potentially reveal information about the cause of the deficiency and the chronicity of pseudofractures. This type of information has the potential to further our understanding of the lived experiences of archaeological individuals with osteomalacia.
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