A case of bilateral humerus varus from the late antiquity Catacomb of Santa Mustiola (Chiusi, Italy)

Int J Paleopathol. 2022 Dec:39:14-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2022.08.001. Epub 2022 Aug 24.


Objective: To report a case of bilateral humerus varus from a late antiquity archeological context in central Italy.

Materials: The individual is a 25-40-year-old female, dated to the 4th cent. CE, from the catacomb of Santa Mustiola in Chiusi, Italy.

Methods: The bones were examined macroscopically and through CT scan imaging.

Results: Both humeri show evident alterations in shape, including elongated, flattened and distally dislocated humeral heads, shortened anatomical necks, angulated upper diaphyseal shafts, and reduced overall lengths. The scapulae appear to have been mildly affected by this condition and show some bone loss and slight retroversion of the glenoid cavity.

Conclusions: Observations are consistent with a diagnosis of humerus varus deformity likely caused by a traumatic event early in the individual's life.

Significance: Varus deformity of the proximal humerus is seldom reported in bioarcheological literature. The case presented provides insight into the etiology and effects of this condition and may serve as comparison for future studies.

Limitations: Even though the absence of other skeletal deformities renders a systemic condition improbable, the traumatic etiology of the condition cannot be confirmed with certainty.

Suggestions for further research: Future publications of new cases may give a broader perspective of the etiology of this condition in the past.

Keywords: Obstetrics; Proximal humerus; Trauma; Varus deformity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diaphyses
  • Female
  • Glenoid Cavity*
  • Humans
  • Humerus* / diagnostic imaging
  • Italy
  • Scapula