Diabetic bone lesions: a study on 38 known modern skeletons and the implications for forensic scenarios


Diabetes mellitus is a condition with severe and life-threatening complications and epidemic proportions worldwide. The study of diabetes on bones can provide crucial information to the forensic practice, the archeological field and medical research. In this paper, the authors report and discuss the lesions observed on the skeletons of 38 individuals (plus 11 negative control samples) of the CAL Milano Cemetery Skeletal Collection with known diabetes. As a result, different types of lesions were highlighted in the feet: periosteal new bone formation, lysis of tuft, lytic lesions, evidence of trauma, osteomyelitis, and osteochondritis dissecans. In 50% of the skeletons of the study sample, lesions were located on bones of the first ray of the foot. Vascular calcifications were also collected and considered. None of these lesions is pathognomonic of diabetes and each implies a broad differential diagnosis that can be confronted with the upper and axial lesions. However, they are coherent with the disease development and complications. This study is the first to document skeletons with known diabetes from an identified collection and discuss their diagnostic potential.

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Correspondence to Lucie Biehler-Gomez.

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Biehler-Gomez, L., Castoldi, E., Baldini, E. et al. Diabetic bone lesions: a study on 38 known modern skeletons and the implications for forensic scenarios. Int J Legal Med 133, 1225–1239 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-018-1870-0

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  • Forensic anthropology
  • Bone pathology
  • Diabetes
  • Dry bone
  • Biological profile