A case-control study was undertaken to generate some hypotheses concerning the etiology of sacroiliac fusion in a group of skeletons dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Forty-one skeletons with fusion of the sacroiliac joint were compared with eighty-two adult skeletons without the condition. The sacroiliac joints were most frequently fused with bridging osteophytes and no preference for site or side of fusion could be detected. Except where there were other features in the skeleton suggestive of a sero-negative arthropathy, radiography demonstrated that there was no intra-articular ankylosis.
We were able to confirm earlier observations that the condition is more prevalent in males and in older age-groups. The study also showed a significant association between sacroiliac fusion and the presence of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) and osteoarthritis of the spine but not for osteoarthritis at any other site. There was a highly significant association between sacroiliac fusion and the phenomenon that we refer to as “bone forming.” We devised a series of bone-former scores and were able to show a significant excess of cases with high scores compared with the controls. This association persisted when allowance had been made for potential confounding factors such as DISH, osteoarthritis of the spine, and age.