The elusive diploic veins: anthropological and anatomical perspective.


Diploic veins (Canales diploicae), which were identified in dogs by Dupuytren more than 200 years ago (Hecker [1845] Die anatomische Verhaltnisse und Krankheiten der Venae diploicae und Vasa emissaria. Erfahrungen und Abhandlungen im Gebiete der Chirurgie und Augenheilkunde. Erlangen), have remained inadequately understood and scantily referenced in the anatomical and anthropological literature. The tunnels formed by diploic veins are among the few known skeletal markers of soft tissue alteration. Protected by two bony laminae, diploic vein tunnels often resist postdepositional destruction and may provide a new way to assess living and extinct hominid populations. This basic research was carried out to enable future utilization of the diploic venous channels in anthropologic research. In the present study, diploic venous channels were observed radiographically in 108 human adults aged 19 years and above, 18 infants and children aged 1-18 years (Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection), eight fetuses aged 7-9 months (the Johns Hopkins Collection), and seven nonhuman primates (Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection). In addition, seven documented cases of parents and children were radiographed for genetic evaluation (Osteological Collection of The Hungarian Natural History Museum). Five distinct diploic distribution patterns were identified and described in this study. This was at variance with the impressions reported in dissection-based studies. Independence of diploic vein pattern from demographic (gender and age) and size factors and their tendency to be symmetrical make them amenable and reliable traits for skeletal population study. Diploic vein patterns appeared to be more complicated in humans than in nonhuman primates, raising the possibility of future phylogenetic applications.

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@article{Hershkovitz1999TheED, title={The elusive diploic veins: anthropological and anatomical perspective.}, author={Israel Hershkovitz and Charles M Greenwald and Bruce M. Rothschild and Bruce M. Latimer and Olivier J Dutour and Lyman M Jellema and Susanne Wish-Baratz and Ildik{\'o} Pap and Georges L{\'e}onetti}, journal={American journal of physical anthropology}, year={1999}, volume={108 3}, pages={345-58} }