Perimortem fracture manifestations and mortality after hip fracture in a documented skeletal series
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OBJECTIVE: Unhealed hip fractures are underrepresented in the archaeological record, suggesting that better identification criteria are required. This paper evaluates whether a sample of documented perimortem hip fractures displayed classic perimortem features and which features may facilitate better identification of such fractures in the archaeological record. MATERIALS: Ten individuals from the Robert J. Terry Anatomical Skeletal Collection with documented hip fractures and intervals of survival. METHODS: We observed the skeletal remains macroscopically and with a Keyence VHX-2000 digital microscope at a range of 5x to 100x magnification. RESULTS: 90% of the individuals and 64% of the fragments had identifiable perimortem features; hinging was the most consistent feature. Eburnation was found in two individuals who died 13 days after sustaining a hip fracture. CONCLUSIONS: This study underscores the importance of examining fracture margins for evidence of hinging. Eburnation may be added to the list of potential perimortem fracture identification criteria. SIGNIFICANCE: Identifying perimortem trauma unequivocally remains challenging. Using collections with documented perimortem fractures aids in determining which criteria are most likely to appear in archaeological human bone. LIMITATIONS: The fracture location patterning (70% intertrochanteric) may be the result of sample selection. SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH: Further intensive comparative investigation with the Hamann-Todd Collection would elucidate patterns further.
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