Microstructural adaptation in trapezial bone due to subluxation of the thumb



Although the thumb saddle is one of the most common sites of degenerative osteoarthritis in the hand, little is known about the altered microstructure in osteoarthritic trapezial bones. External forces resulting from subluxation of the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb (CMC I) should provoke microstructural changes in the trapezium. The purpose of this study was to compare the regional differences of the microstructure between osteoarthritic and healthy trapezial bones. Fifteen trapezia harvested from female patients with radiologically and clinically diagnosed saddle joint osteoarthritis (OA) were compared with 15 unaffected controls. Microstructural parameters, such as bone volume ratio (BV/TV), three-dimensional connectivity (Conn.D), trabecular number (Tb.N), and trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) were studied using a microcomputed tomography (microCT) system. While the trapezial height in OA was 22% less, the sclerotic subchondral bone layer thickness was 50% higher in OA compared with the control group (p < 0.001). In the OA group there was a 42% higher bone volume ratio (p ≤ 0.001), an 18% increase in Tb.Th (p = 0.006), and a 10% greater Tb.N (p = 0.034) compared with the control group. Although in both groups BV/TV was significantly lower in the radial region, the radial column showed the highest relative increase in bone volume and structure compared with the control group (+67% BV/TV, +20% Tb.Th, +23% Tb.N). The reinforcement of the bony microstructure in CMC I OA, especially at the radial side, is a sign for bone adaptation reacting to radially shifted joint forces. This has to be considered during the development of new prosthetic alternatives. © 2007 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 26:208–216, 2008