A qualitative and quantitative investigation of structural morphology in the neonatal ilium

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Cortical and trabecular bone characteristics can be used to make predictions regarding previous loading regimes and developmental milestones which a bone has encountered. This has led to the suggestion that in the adult pelvis, bone patterning is related to the remodeling forces generated during bipedal locomotion. However, during the neonatal period the pelvic complex is non-load bearing, therefore, structural organisation of the ilium cannot reflect direct stance related forces. This study considers the cortical and trabecular bone structure in the ilium of the fetal and newborn infant, a structural configuration which until now has remained largely neglected in the literature. Only recently, with the advent of imaging modalities, has a greater insight and understanding of previously unexplored human bone structural composition and developing bone structure been made possible. In this study, multiple imaging techniques were applied to establish the optimal modality for application to the assessment of bone microstructure. Plain plate macroradiography and micro-computed tomography were identified as the gold standard imaging modalities for bone structural analysis for respective qualitative and quantitative assessment. These techniques were applied to gain a perspective of bone form from a sample of fetal and neonatal ilia selected from the Scheuer collection of juvenile remains. Initially, qualitative analysis highlighted consistent and well-defined patterns of cortical and trabecular bone organisation within the fetal and neonatal ilium, which corresponded with previously recognised regions in the adult that have been attributed directly to forces associated with bipedal locomotion. This was highly unexpected as the early developmental ilium is non-load bearing. Subsequently, quantification of the neonatal cortical and trabecular structure reinforced radiographic observations by identifying regions of significant architectural arrangement. Further investigation of this precocious patterning led to a revised proposal for the mode of growth in the human ilium during the neonatal developmental period. Analysis revealed statistically significant differences in regional trabecular characteristics and cortical thicknesses which have formed the basis of a proposed growth model for the ilium. The presence of ‘progressive growth regions’ and ‘restricted growth regions’ which appear to relate to metaphyseal and non-metaphyseal borders of the ilium have been demonstrated. Analysis of the early iliac bone pattern is important for understanding the relationship between trabecular bone patterning and cortical bone structure during the earliest stages of development in response to the specific functional forces acting during this period. It is suggested that the seemingly organised rudimentary scaffold observed in the early developmental ilium may be attributable to early ossification patterning, non-weight bearing anatomical interactions or even to a predetermined genetic blueprint. It must also be postulated that whilst the observed patterning may be indicative of a predetermined inherent template, early non-load bearing locomotive influences may subsequently be superimposed upon this scaffolding and perhaps reinforced and likely remodelled at a later age. Ultimately, the analysis of this fundamental primary pattern has core implications for understanding the earliest changes in iliac trabecular architecture and provides a baseline insight into future ontogenetic development and bipedal capabilities. Finally, the structural data and statistical analysis presented challenge the current concept of implied centrifugal ossification within the human ilium and present evidence of an alternative pattern of ossification that is largely dictated and controlled by basic anatomical principles.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Leng Charitable Trust & Wenner-Gren Foundation
    SupervisorSue Black (Supervisor)

    Cite this