Paleohistology of Paget's disease in two medieval skeletons

Authors

  • Dr. Jean E. Aaron,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Human Metabolism, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2RX, England
    • Department of Anatomy, Medical and Dental Bilding, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, England
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  • Juliet Rogers,

    1. Department of Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol BS2 8HW, England
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  • John A. Kanis

    1. Department of Human Metabolism, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2RX, England
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Abstract

Paget's disease has been ascribed several times to specimens of archeological bone but, in the absence of microscopic examination, the evidence, remains insubstantial. Suspected metabolic bone disease is described here in the archeological remains of a skeleton from a 16th century burial ground at Wells Cathedral, England and from a single medieval sacrum recovered from a large deposit of disarticulated bones from a churchyard at Barton-on-Humber, England. Radiographs showed apparent structural abnormality in one femoral shaft and calcaneus and in the isolated sacrum. Histomorphometry on undecalcified bone cores confirmed the regions of abnormality and showed not only increased trabecular width but also areas of “mosaic” woven bone together with extensive resorption cavities; these features contrasted with the normal structure and organized lamellar bone from sites elsewhere. Despite post-interment changes in surrounding tissues, the morphological stability of some of the osteocytes was remarkable. Preservation of the histology was sufficient to permit the assignment of a metabolic bone disorder and the nature of the sclerosis was consistent with Paget's disease. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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