A rare femoral heterotopic bone formation in a 14th-19th century female skeleton from Constância (Portugal)

Sandra Assis, Joana Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This paper aims to: (1) document a rare femoral heterotopic ossification (HO), and (2) discuss its aetiology and impact on the individual's locomotion and daily living activities. Materials: Adult female skeleton (SG.14-SK.7) from the village of Constância (Portugal), and dated from the 14th-19th centuries CE. Methods: The biological profile and the macroscopic analysis of the bone changes were assessed using standardized methods. Results: The macroscopic analysis revealed a large bony mass (8 cm length) located immediately inferior to the small trochanter of the right femur. The lesion exhibited a compact, tubular appearance located at the site of attachment of the pectineus muscle. No signs of bone fracture were observed. Conclusions: The morphology of the SG.14-SK.7 femoral lesion is compatible with a probable case of myositis ossificans traumatica (MOT), secondary to acute trauma of the pectineus muscle. The underlying trauma episode, such as random accidental and/or occupation-related injury, is unknown. However, it is highly possible that this self-limiting condition significantly impaired the individual's daily life and mobility. Significance: Evidence of severe acute muscle trauma is a rare finding compared with HO secondary to bone trauma and other minor muscle injuries. Moreover, no cases of MOT affecting the pectineus muscle have been reported in the paleopathological literature to date. Limitations: Although unlikely, a case of neurogenic or burn-related HO cannot be completely disregarded. It was not possible to undertake radiography as part of this study. Suggestions for further research: The use of imaging techniques to complement the paleopathological description is advised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Paleopathology
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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