A Case of Complete Hyoid Body Agenesis and the Benefits of Anthropology Consultation When Assessing Structures of the Neck

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Justin Z. Goldstein
Jennifer K. Odien
Mary K. Schwerdt


This case study details a rare finding of hyoid body agenesis. Anthropological consultation on structures of the neck is
frequently utilized at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. This practice allows for anthropology findings to supplement and support the autopsy reports produced by the medical examiners, often detailing the presence of trauma and/or anatomical variants. In this case, while no trauma to the neck was suspected, anthropological consultation revealed a unique hyoid morphology that has not yet been documented in the forensic literature. Moreover, this morphology seems to support a single developmental origin for the hyoid body, which has been theorized in recent embryological research. Analysis of this hyoid body agenesis may contribute meaningful data to discussions regarding hyoid bone developmental origins and provide a useful example for other forensic cases involving similar morphology. This case exemplifies the benefit of pathological and anthropological collaboration in distinguishing between trauma, pathology, and anatomical variants when assessing structures of the neck.

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