Variability in anatomical features of human clavicle: Its forensic anthropological and clinical significance

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Bones can reflect the basic framework of human body and may provide valuable information about the biological identity of the deceased. They, often, survive the morphological alterations, taphonomic destructions, decay/mutilation and decomposition insults. In-depth knowledge of variations in clavicular shape, size and its dimensions is very important from both clinical (fixation of clavicular fractures using external or inter-medullary devices, designing orthopedic fixation devices) as well as forensic anthropological perspectives. Human clavicle is the most frequently fractured bone of human skeleton, possessing high degree of variability in its anatomical, biomechanical and morphological features. Extended period of skeletal growth (up to third decade) in clavicle imparts it an additional advantage for forensic identification purposes. In present study, five categories of clavicular features like lengths, diameters, angles, indices and robustness were examined to explore the suitability of collarbone for forensic and clinical purposes. For this purpose, 263 pairs of adult clavicles (195 Males and 68 Females) were collected from autopsied cadavers and were studied for 13 anatomical features. Gender and occupational affiliations of cadavers were found to have significant influences on anatomical dimensions of their clavicles. Product index, weight and circumference of collarbone were found the best univariate variables, discriminating sex of more than 80% individuals. The best multivariate Function-I (DF: -17.315 + 0.054 CL-L+0.196 CC-R+0.184 DM-L) could identify sex and occupation of 89.4% (89.2% Male and 89.7% Female) and 65.4% individuals, respectively. All clavicular variables were found bilaterally asymmetric; left clavicles being significantly longer in length, lighter in weight, smooth in texture and less curved than the right side bones. Among non-metric traits, sub-clavian groove, nutrient foramina and ‘type’ of clavicle exhibited significant sexual dimorphism. Thus, both metric and non-metric features of clavicle can have decisive role in forensic identifications and clinical interventions. Present results would be of great significance for anatomists, orthopedicians, surgeons and the forensic anthropologists in their professional endeavors.




Sehrawat, J. S., & Pathak, R. K. (2016). Variability in anatomical features of human clavicle: Its forensic anthropological and clinical significance. Translational Research in Anatomy, 34, 5–14.

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