Co-morbidity with hypertrophic osteoarthropathy: a possible Iron Age Sarmatian case from the Volga steppe of Russia

Jeanna Loyer, Eileen Murphy, Mary Ruppe, Vyacheslav Moiseyev, Valery Khartanovich, Jean Zammit, Stephane Rottier, Nikolay Potrakhov, Victor Bessonov, Anatoliy Obodovskiy

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (HOA) is a condition that can be inherited or acquired. It causes diffuse periosteal new bone formation on the long bones, with a predilection for the appendicular skeleton. When acquired, it is a nonspecific indicator of systemic disease that arises following a primary condition. This paper reviews the palaeopathological literature associated with this rare condition. It also describes the first possible case of co-morbidity associated with hypertrophic osteoarthropathy in an adult skeleton (cal. BC 170 – 1 cal. AD) from the mobile pastoralist Sarmatian culture of the Volga steppes of Russia.
Macroscopic and radiological examination provide differential diagnoses of the lesions, while clinical and bioarchaeological analyses offer insights into the possible experience of disease and social implications of care among the nomadic populations of Iron Age Russia.
The analysis of Sk. 6524.102 displays lesions that may be due to both hypertrophic osteoarthropathy and osteomalacia. The man was physically impaired and his participation in physically challenging activities would have been limited.
The study stresses that co-morbidity is a key parameter when interpreting disease in past populations, particularly when the diagnosis involves hypertrophic osteoarthropathy.
This is the first case of hypertrophic osteoarthropathy identified in Eurasian prehistoric populations. The research emphasises the significance of co-morbidity in the past.
The diagnosis of co-morbid diseases in human remains is extremely complex and the conditions were identified as most probable by a process of elimination.
Suggestions for further research
Further studies should be dedicated to understanding co-morbidity in the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-78
JournalInternational Journal of Paleopathology
Early online date05 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2019


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