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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Charlotte Roberts

Plomp, K.A., Roberts, C.A. & Strand Viðarsdόttir, U. (2015). Does the correlation between Schmorl’s nodes and vertebral morphology extend into the lumbar spine? American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157(3): 526-534.

Author(s) from Durham


Schmorl's nodes are depressions on vertebrae due to herniation of the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc into the vertebral body. This study provides an extension of our previous study which analyzed the shape of the lower thoracic spine and found that vertebral morphology was associated with the presence of Schmorl's nodes. Ninety adult individuals from the late Medieval site of Fishergate House, York, and the Post-Medieval site of Coach Lane, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England, were analysed using 2D geometric morphometrics to identify possible relationships between vertebral morphology and Schmorl's nodes at the thoraco-lumbar junction and in the lumbar spine. A significant correlation was found between vertebral shape and the presence of Schmorl's nodes in the twelfth thoracic vertebrae and the first to third lumbar vertebrae. The findings corroborate previous studies and suggest that vertebral shape may be an important factor in spinal health. It is hypothesized that the pedicle shape of affected vertebrae may not provide adequate structural support for the vertebral bodies, resulting in vertical disc herniation.