A qualitative and quantitative investigation of the functional morphology of the juvenile scapula

  • Andrew Stephen O'Malley

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis presents a radiographic description of developmental morphology of the human scapula and a comprehensive morphological description of trabecular bone in the perinatal scapula. While the aim was originally to describe the changing trabecular morphology in the developing scapula, considerable thought has gone into the design, advancement and validity of the methodologies presented in this thesis. The work of previous studies has been considered and improved upon to take into account recent advances in software and hardware. Specifically, the introduction of MPR to the methodology has resulted in a more efficient and reliable technique that could allow future researchers to examine larger datasets in shorter periods of time. Additional anthropometric data were also gathered on the perinatal scapula, which was used to assist in the design of the multiplanar stereoscopic analysis. User error associated with threshold definition and VOI placement was also investigated and found to be negligible.

    With respect to development of the juvenile scapula, three distinct developmental phases, comprising eight separate groups, were identified from the radiographic study and anthropometric review study: pre-reboot (<0.5y), reboot (0.5-3y) and post-reboot (>3y). A clear pattern of regional organisation was visible at the earliest stages of development, echoing the findings of previous studies. It was suggested that the reboot phase represents a developmental period in which the scapula undergoes functional change under a two-tier mechanism, which influences its overall development.

    On one level the scapula appears constrained by a rigid template that controls macro- morphology in preparation for phylogenetically anticipated demands, which may, or may not, materialise; on a second tier is the adaptive micro-architecture that initially compliments the phylogenetic template, but retains the flexibility to respond to shifting ontogenetic demands.

    The trabecular architecture of the pre-reboot specimens was subsequently analysed
    in quantitative detail. A progressive radiating pattern, which originated from the approximate location of the primary ossification centre, was identified; it is suggested that a combination of radiating growth and internal vascular distribution are significant contributors to this pattern.

    This thesis provides a detailed account of the developmental morphology of the human scapula and contributes new elements to the evolving methodologies used in this field. The findings of this study also lay the foundation for further investigation of the radiating pattern of ossification and the potential for micro-architecture in developing bone to adapt to ontogenetic demands despite gross morphology that is phylogenetically constrained.
    Date of Award2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSue Black (Supervisor) & Roger Soames (Supervisor)


    • Anatomy
    • Scapula
    • Osteology

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