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Gonial angle

The angle formed by the intersection of the body of the mandible and the ascending mandibular ramus; an important consideration in prognathic procedures. Called also angulus mandibulae.

Although not usually recorded by anthropologists, measurements of the gonial angle of the mandible and of the subcostal angle have proved to be of great value. The gonial angle formed by the horizontal and ascending rami of the lower jaw appears to differ widely in various disease groups. In males of the gall bladder series, for example, low average values for this measurement consistently emphasize their square, almost rectangular jaws. The widest average jaw angle is found in males with acute rheumatic fever; and high average values for the gastric and duodenal ulcer groups indicate that these patients also have wide-angled jaws. Prostatic hypertrophy patients possess square jaws (mean 119.2 degrees), and by far the least amount of variation within the group (standard deviation 3.9 degrees).

Gonial angle (I).

In the female series, toxemia of pregnancy patients stand out in possessing extremely wide gonial angles. The squarer jaws are found in the gall bladder, and carcinoma of breast and of uterus groups.

Subcostal Angle

The subcostal angle is formed at the lower opening of the thorax in front by the cartilages of the tenth, ninth, eighth, and seventh ribs, which ascend on either side and form an angle into the apex of which the xiphoid process projects.

Males of various disease groups show marked difference in the size of the subcostal angle; notwithstanding considerable individual variability in this measurement the differences of means between members of certain subgroups attain definite statistical significance. The narrowest rage subcostal angle (44.0 degrees) is found in men with duodenal ulcer. This mean is significantly smaller than the means of the acute rheumatic fever, gall bladder, and pernicious anemia series. The widest average angle is found among the pernicious anemia patients (67.2 degrees) and the next widest among the gall bladder patients (61.9 degrees). The means for both these groups are significantly greater than of the duodenal ulcer, gastric ulcer, prostatic hypertrophy groups, the mean of the total male series.

Sub costal angle.

Among the women, three groups (migraine, gall bladder, and pernianemia) possess mean subcostal angles which are vastly different all other female disease groups. The migraine average of 29.5 degrees is by far the smallest of any group and is by far the smaller of any group and is significantly smaller than the means of all other disease groups and the total female series.

The mean value of 55.8 degrees shows that the women with pernicious anemia have the widest subcostal angles in any group, even wider than the women in the gall bladder series (48.6 degrees). Both the gall bladder and pernicious anemia averages are significantly larger than those of the other disease groups and of the total female series.

The variability in this measurement is extremely high among all disease groups. The one exception is the migraine series which shows a remarkably small standard deviation. It is interesting to note that the sizes of the gonial and subcostal angles usually display directly opposite values. Thus a wide gonial angle and narrow subcostal angle are companions.


Gonial and subcostal angle means by disease groups

Gonial Angle (in degrees)Subcostal Angle (in degrees)
Gastric ulcer25126.88.22548.321.3
Duodenal ulcer89126.77.48544.016.1
Pernicious anemia32124.27.13067.224.2
Acute rheumatic fever25129.27.82455.120.1
Hypertrophy of prostate39119.23.93947.615.2
Gall bladder27115.57.32861.918.9
Total disease groups237124.16.523151.420.4
Gonial Angle (in degrees)Subcostal Angle (in degrees)
Pernicious anemia35126.36.13055.825.9
Duodenal ulcer22127.97.42137.918.0
Acute rheumatic fever44126.38.44339.216.7
Toxemia of pregnancy89134.17.18736.916.0
Gall bladder87121.39.28348.618.0
Carcinoma of breast144123.25.413838.515.0
Carcinoma of uterus113122.54.810839.913.8
Total disease groups579125.37.955540.317.1



1. Draper G, Dupertuis CW, Caughey JL. Human Constitution in Clinical Medicine. PB Hoeber, Inc. New York, 1944