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Morphometric Analysis of Age and Gender-Related Changes in the Rib Cage

Adults 65 years of age and older currently constitute more than 12% of the total population, and the elderly population is projected to reach more than 20% by 2050.


Age-related rib shape changesRed arrows indicate the direction of rib shape changes with increasing age. Increased kyphosis of the spine as well as increase in ‘barrel chested’ geometry is shown to occur with age.

Previous studies have shown that skeletal and physiological resilience decline with age, resulting in a decreased ability for the body to withstand traumatic insults. The objective of the current study is to quantify age and gender-specific variations in rib morphology for use in generating a parametric rib cage model for injury prediction.

Normal chest CT scans for each gender were collected from ages 0 to 100 years. Image segmentation and subsequent image registration was used to collect landmark data from the ribs.  



Rib morphometrics
Shape, size, cortical thickness, and bone density variations are apparent in these 3D chest CT reconstructions of: A) a 6 year old, B) a 29 year old, and C) a 73 year old.


Geometric morphometrics, particulary the Procrustes superimposition method, can then be used to analyze the landmark data to formulate age and gender-specific shape and size variation functions.

Rib cortical thickness and bone density variation is also quantified with age and gender. The functions describing rib morphology variation will be used to create a scalable finite element model of the rib cage that will be used in computational simulations to predict chest injury response for different ages and genders.

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Center for Injury Biomechanics
Dr. Joel Stitzel
Director of the CIB on the WFU Campus

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