Age-related changes in iliac crest cortical width and porosity: a histomorphometric study


Juliet E. Compston, Department of Medicine, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK. E:


Although age-related changes in cancellous bone structure in human are relatively well characterized, few studies have addressed changes in cortical bone. We have investigated age-related changes in iliac crest bone biopsy specimens from 54 normal subjects, 23 men and 31 women, aged 18–90 years. A significant decrease in cortical width and area was seen (P = 0.002 and < 0.001 respectively), with no difference between sexes. Haversian canal density increased significantly with age by approximately 9% per decade (P = 0.032) but Haversian canal area tended to be lower, resulting in no overall age-related difference in cortical porosity. Haversian canal area was significantly higher in the endosteal section than in the periosteal section of the cortex (P = 0.019) but the Haversian canal density was lower, resulting in similar overall porosity in the two sections. In conclusion, our results demonstrate an age-related decrease in iliac crest cortical width in men and women and an increase in Haversian canal density, but no overall change in cortical porosity.