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Oldest Mummified Case of Hallux Valgus from Ancient Egypt

Albert Isidro MD, PhD1 and Assumpció Malgosa MD, PhD2
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  • 1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital Universitari Sagrat Cor, Barcelona, Spain.
  • | 2 Unitat Antropologia Biològica BABVE, Edificio C Facultad de Biociencias, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.
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Hallux valgus is the most common orthopedic problem of the adult foot. The etiology can be congenital, associated with the occurrence of metatarsus primus varus, or acquired, which is closely related to wearing ill-fitting shoes. Hallux valgus occurs almost exclusively in shod societies and, therefore, is a very uncommon finding in archaeological remains. We present a partial first ray of the left foot belonging to a dismembered Egyptian mummy recovered in the necropolis of Sharuna (Middle Egypt) and dated to the end of the Old Kingdom (circa 2100 BC). The mummification process led to a metatarsophalangeal joint in connection by means of soft tissues. The alignment of this joint could be diagnosed as a hallux valgus. Further examination showed a metatarsophalangeal angle of 28°. After a comprehensive literature search and noting that all of the previous cases were described by indirect factors, such as mounting the joint in dry bones, we can state with certainty that the piece we present herein is the oldest case of mummified hallux valgus.

Corresponding author: Albert Isidro, MD, PhD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital Universitari Sagrat Cor, Viladomat 288, Barcelona, 08029 Spain. (E-mail: aisidro.cot@gmail.com)