Morphometric study of long bones histology

  • Napakorn Sangchay

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The utilization of qualitative and quantitative analysis of long bone histology has demonstrated its usefulness in forensic human identification, including age-at-death estimation, human and non-human determination and sex determination. The establishment of an individual biological profile from the measurement of skeletal microstructure requires an understanding of the bone remodelling mechanism that results in the variation in the shape, size and organization of bone microstructural characteristics. The majority of current literature in this area have been conducted with little consideration given to the variability of sampling sites, different skeletal elements or population specificity. These issues have led to an unclear understanding of how sex differences, sampling region and different population groups may affect the change of bone histomorphology throughout a skeletal element.

This research examined the degree of inter- and intra-skeletal histomorphometric variation in both the humerus and femur at three different cross-sectional sampling sites as well as the circumferential variation within a sampling site across two human populations (Scottish and Thai) and two animal species (Porcine and Bovine). At each sampling site traditional histomorphometric parameters such as osteon and Haversian canal areas, perimeter, and also diameters were measured. Comparisons of skeletal histomorphometric were established with the purpose of examining effects of histologic variation on an estimation of population origin, sex and species. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first application of traditional histomorphometric methods and statistical analysis to the field of skeletal histomorphometry for the purpose of distinguishing two geographically different populations. Haversian system related parameters were also assessed in terms of their benefit for potential future application in a forensic context.

This research showed a number of novel findings. First, variation of skeletal histomorphometric parameters are not only found within weight bearing bones, but are also demonstrated in non-weight bearing skeletal elements. Second, the existence of this variation is considerable and should be taken into account when utilising histological methods in a forensic context, especially when establishing biological identifications. Finally, this research showed variability of skeletal microstructure between sexes and between population groups, and thus may form the basis of methods for sex determination and population differentiation.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCraig Cunningham (Supervisor) & Paul Felts (Supervisor)

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