A case of elbow synostosis in a child of the ancient hospital of Milan

Emanuela Sguazza, Daniele Gibelli, Paolo Maria Galimberti, Cristina Cattaneo


Paleopathology is fundamental in archaeology, as it may provide information concerning the health conditions and the general life quality in a historical context. In order to outline a thorough profile of the subject or the examined population, the comparison with modern clinical literature is essential since it allows one to obtain more details, such as the specific malformations and degree of invalidity due to disease. This study reports a case of left humeroulnar synostosis found in the burial chambers of the ancient hospital of Milan. Clinical literature suggests that the subject may be affected by a congenital synostosis, probably related to a genetic disease such as Pfeiffer and Roberts syndrome. Consequently, the individual suffered from a limitation in movements and possibly from other malformations (alterations of lower limbs and inner viscera) which may have caused invalidity and social disadvantage. The authors report a particular case of a congenital disease in a specific historical context and highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in the study of ancient bones.


elbow; humeroulnar synostosis; congenital disease; ancient hospital; commingled remains

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