Anat Biol Anthropol.  2019 Dec;32(4):167-172. 10.11637/aba.2019.32.4.167.

Schmorl's Nodes and Partial Lumbarization of S1 in European Human Remains of Korean War Casualty Excavated from the Arrowhead Ridge in DMZ

  • 1MND Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification, Korea.
  • 2Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Korea.


The Ministry of National Defense of Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) launched the Korean War casualty excavation project to retrieve war remains at the Arrowhead Ridge in the DMZ by affecting the mood of peace-building and inter-Korean tension-reducing, and uncovered possible Korean War casualty's remains. The present case of excavated bones was well-preserved and the rate of preservation was more than 97%. As an identification results of this case, the ethnicity, age, stature was estimated as European, 16-19 years old, 163-169.5 cm respectively. Schmorl's nodes and partial lumbarization of the sacrum were observed in the anthropological and forensic examination. Multiple Schmorl's nodes as various sizes were localized in the upper and lower surface of the vertebral endplate from lower thoracic vertebrae (T8-T12) to lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5). A partial lumbarization of S1 was also observed in the sacrum. In this case, we suggested the hypothesis that Schmorl's node and partial lumbarization of S1 can simultaneously occur even in the young age as a course of functional adaptation in regarding to the morphological features of the constituent elements of the vertebrae. Further studies for the biomechanical mechanism of Schmorl's node and lumbarization of S1 in various ethnic groups of large population will reveal more about the relationship between the morphological features of the vertebrae and the bony lesions.


Schmorl's node; Lumbarization; Thoracic vertebrae; Lumbar vertebrae; Sacrum

MeSH Terms

Ethnic Groups
Korean War*
Lumbar Vertebrae
Thoracic Vertebrae


  • Fig. 1 The Korean War casualty remains of present case excavated from the Arrowhead Ridge in DMZ. A. The uncovered and exposed human skeleton on the spot. B. Well preserved human skeleton and measure scale.

  • Fig. 2 Lower thoracic vertebrae (T8–T12) and Lumbar Vertebrae (L1–L3) were sequentially arranged from left to right direction. Upper and lower row showed the superior and inferior view of each vertebra, respectively. Various sizes of Schmorl's nodes were found in the upper and lower surface of vertebral endplate in each vertebra, notably L2, L3. The round shape of vertebral body was also well recognized in the thoracic vertebrae.

  • Fig. 3 Sacrum showing partial lumbarization of first sacral segment (S1). A. ventral surface of sacrum. B. dorsal surface of sacrum. The presence of distinct separation was notably observed between the S1 and S1 body. Especially, the lower margin of auricular surface was situated at a lower level (S3) than normal site.


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