Sandra E. Inouye, Ph.D.


Midwestern University
College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Dental Medicine-- Illinois
Department of Anatomy
Science Hall 542-J
555 31st St.
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Office: (630) 515-6132


B.S. Anthropology University of California, Davis 1985
M.A. Anthropology Northwestern University 1987
Ph.D. Anthropology Northwestern University 1994


Ontogenetic variation, function, and evolution of the human and non-human primate postcranial skeleton

I am interested in the comparative anatomy of the human and non-human primate postcranial skeleton and how these variations reflect differences in locomotor movement and function of the skeleton.  In particular, my goal is to better understand how patterns of relative growth may play a part in the skeletal differences that we see among the closely related great apes (chimpanzees, gorilla, orangutans) and humans. In this way, we may better understand how human bipedalism evolved from a common ancestor that we shared with the living great apes.

In addition to anthropological questions, I also focus on how human variation in the postcranial anatomy impacts orthopaedic surgical approaches. With my collaborator, Nathan Fanter, D.O., using cadaveric material, we examine how natural human variation in soft tissue and skeletal structures may influence surgical approaches associated with the lower limb.

Research projects

Project I:

The tibia is the most commonly fractured long bone, accounting for over 6% of all fractures.  The majority of orthopaedic trauma surgeons prefer to manage tibial diaphyseal fractures with intramedullary nailing (IMN).  However, neurovascular complications may arise with tibial IMN related to vascular injury.  This great risk is due to the location of the tibial IMN locking bolts and the proximity of neurovascular and tendinous structures.

Relationship between anterior tibial artery and distal bolt locking holes

In this project, we examined the proximity of three common anterior tibial artery (ATA) variants to the distal locking bolt holes in the tibial IMNs using a cadaveric sample.  A better understanding of the anatomical relationships of the common ATA variants to the distal locking bolt holes of different tibial nails will assist the surgeon in selection of a tibial nail that reduces the risk of neurovascular injury.

Project II:

A Jones fracture is a fracture of the proximal fifth metatarsal, immediately distal to its tuberosity.  Chronic stress is a common cause of this type of fracture, particularly in athletes.  Intramedullary (IM) screw fixation is a popular surgical treatment for athletes due to the purported rapid bony union rates and subsequent decrease in recovery time.  However, this procedure is not without risk due to fracturing the metatarsal diaphysis as a result of the natural bowing of the metatarsal and intramedullary canal.

In this project, we are examining the surgical protocol for treatment of a Jones Fracture via cannulated stainless steel screw fixation in a cadaveric population.  A thorough understanding of the consequence of this surgical treatment on the fifth metatarsal and its potential effect on the lateral tarsometatarsal joint will assist the orthopaedic surgeon in proper insertion of the screw into the metatarsal medullary cavity.

Selected Publications

Safety of ankle trans-syndesmotic fixation.
Fanter NJ, Inouye SE, McBryde AM Jr.
Foot Ankle Int. 2010 May;31(5):433-40. doi: 10.3113/FAI.2010.0433.

The implications of variation in knuckle-walking features for models of African hominoid locomotor evolution.
S. E. Inouye and B. T. Shea.
In E. Bruner (Ed):  Shape Meets Function:  Structural Models in PrimatologyJournal of Anthropological Sciences, 2004, 82:67-88.

Intraspecific and ontogenetic variation in forelimb morphology of Gorilla.
S. E. Inouye.
In  A. B. Taylor and M. L. Goldsmith (Eds):  Gorilla Biology:  A Multidisciplinary Perspective.  Pp. 194-235.  2003. Cambridge University Press.