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Prevalence of Maxillary Sinusitis in Leprous Individuals from a Medieval Leprosy Hospital
By Philip A. Boocock, Charlotte A. Roberts, and Keith Manchester
International Journal of Leprosy, Vol.63:2 (1995)
Abstract: A number of papers have recently explored the association between sinusitis and its occurrence in individuals with lepromatous leprosy. No systematic study of the relationship between these two diseases appears to have been carried out for archeological material. Moller-Christensen, in his classic study of Danish leprous skeletons, mentions only briefly the presence of sinusitis, and does not associate the two conditions.
An investigation into maxillary sinusitis in the remains of individuals from the medieval hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, Chichester, England, offered an opportunity to study the possible relationship between this condition and leprosy in an archeological population.
The sample of skeletons used for this investigation was derived from the cemetery of the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, Chichester, England. The hospital was founded in A.D. 1118 to house male leprosy sufferers. With the decline in leprosy in the later Middle Ages there was a change in function of the hospital to that of an almshouse, the last documentary evidence for leprous inmates being recorded in A.D. 1418.
Of the total cemetary adult population, 133 skeletons had sufficiently well preserved maxillary antra to be included in the present study. This inclusion was determined by the presence of at least one antral floor. Of the 133 skeletons 16 had bone changes exhibiting the rhinomaxillary syndrome pathognomic of lepromatous leprosy; 13 had tuberculoid leprosy, diagnosed by the absence of rhinomaxillary change and only unilateral hand/foot changes the remaining 104 skeletons had no obvious manifestations of leprosy.