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Anat Cell Biol. 2012 Dec;45(4):274-81. doi: 10.5115/acb.2012.45.4.274. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Vertebral osteophyte of pre-modern Korean skeletons from Joseon tombs.

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Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. ; Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Spinal osteophytic changes are known to be affected by differences in age, sex, population, and mechanical stress. We examined Joseon skeletons (n=87) to obtain vertebral osteophytosis data on a pre-modern Korean population. The mean osteophytic value (MOV) of vertebrae increased in the cervical-thoracic-lumbar order. More severe osteophytosis was found in the vertebrae (C5, T9, T10, and L4) farthest from the line of gravity, while the general pattern of vertebral osteophytosis appeared similar to those of previous reports on other skeletal series. More severe osteophytes were much more common in the males, possibly due to their engaging in more strenuous physical labor than that of females. We also observed MOV patterns seemingly unique to the Joseon people, and findings not typically reported in previous studies. Although a full explanation of the factors contributing to vertebral-osteophytic development in Joseon Koreans will require further studies, the present results are meaningful to anatomists and anthropologists interested in osteophytic patterns occurring in an East Asian population.


Joseon Dynasty; Korea; Mean osteophytic value; Osteophyte; Spine

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