Cortical Bone in the Human Femoral Neck: Three-Dimensional Appearance and Porosity Using Synchrotron Radiation

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  • The authors have no conflict of interest.

Abstract

A high-resolution CT system using synchrotron radiation allowed visualization of the 3D cortical bone microarchitecture and measurement of intracortical porosity of femoral neck cortical bone specimens from 19 female cadavers imaged at 10.13-μm resolution. 3D reconstruction of specimens showed osteonal system arrangement. Mean porosity was 15.88%. This technique will provide insights into the mechanisms involved in osteoporotic hip fractures.

Introduction: The purpose of this study was to show that a high-resolution CT system using synchrotron radiation (SR) allows visualization of the 3D cortical bone microarchitecture of the human femoral neck and quantification of intracortical porosity.

Materials and Methods: Bone specimens from the inferior femoral neck were obtained from 19 female cadavers with no hip fracture (mean, 86.9 ± 8.3 years). The specimens, consisting of embedded ∼7 × 7 × 12-mm cortical bone parallelepipeds, were imaged using SR at 10.13-μm resolution. Commercial software was used to visualize both the 660 × 660 × 660-voxel volumes and the 2D axial slices through each volume. Qualitative examination of 2D axial slices focused on the appearance of the vessel canal system, presence of small bright zones (fully mineralized tissue) in the osseous matrix, and presence of cracks. A method was developed to automatically measure 3D intracortical porosity after separating pure bone from pores and cortical bone from trabecular bone.

Results and Conclusions: 3D reconstruction of the specimens showed the entire structure and arrangement of the osteonal systems, parallel to the axis of the femoral neck. Bright zones were seen in the outer cortex. No cracks were observed. Porosity values varied widely from 4.96% to 38.87% (mean, 15.88 ± 9.87%). This study establishes that SR microtomography can be used to display the 3D bone microstructure of the human femoral neck cortex and to quantify intracortical porosity. This technique will provide insights into the mechanisms involved in cortical bone loss and osteoporotic hip fractures.

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