Differential diagnosis of an unusual shoulder articular lesion in an ancient domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris L., 1758)

D. F. Lawler, D. A. Rubin, R. H. Evans, C. F. Hildebolt, K. E. Smith, C. Widga, T. J. Martin, M. Siegel, J. E. Sackman, G. K. Smith, T. K. Patel

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A proximal humeral articular surface from an ancient domestic dog deliberate burial was examined during survey of small mammal bones from a prehistoric early Late Woodland archeological site.An unusual lesion on the caudolateral articular surface prompted micro-computed tomography to define detailed structure. Results indicate cortical or immature woven bone arising subchondrally, replacing normal trabeculae, extending through a breach in the cortical surface, and having sharp transition with surrounding normal bone. Organized bone within the lesion indicates that the dog lived for months-to-years following insult.Differential diagnoses initially included: sharp penetrating trauma; intrinsic or extrinsic blunt fracturing force; osteochondrosis or complication of an osteochondral lesion; unusual osteoarthritis; and neoplasia. Computed tomography ruled out normal or unusual osteoarthritis, and neoplasia. The nature and small size of the lesion, relatively small size of the dog, and lack of evidence for complicating infection, suggest against sharp penetrating trauma as a sole cause.The most plausible differential diagnoses include: uncommon fracture-producing force in a companion animal, and blunt intrinsic or extrinsic force causing fracture at a weak point, such as an early osteochondral lesion, that was obliterated by healing.Combined gross examination, micro-computed tomography, and archeological-anthropological influences facilitated refinement of differential diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-287
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Paleopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Dog
  • Micro-computed tomography
  • Paleopathology
  • Prehistoric Native American archeological site
  • Shoulder


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