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Keywords:

  • cancellous bone structure;
  • bone volume;
  • plate model;
  • trabecular thickness;
  • trabecular separation

Abstract

This study shows that change to cancellous bone structure is bone volume-dependent in a nonlinear manner. At low bone volume (<15%), trabecular thickness and trabecular separation change at a much greater rate than at higher bone volume. This suggests that the structural integrity of the cancellous bone may become rapidly compromised when bone volume falls below a critical value.

Introduction: While bone mass is the major determinant of bone strength, this mass-based paradigm does not fully account for the contribution of the bone microstructure to mechanical efficiency. Geometric models of cancellous bone structure have been formulated based on stylized representations of the trabecular elements, where the relationships between bone volume and bone surface of cancellous bone are complex and reflect the modulating effect on the cancellous bone structure of bone remodeling at the trabecular surfaces. Using the plate model of cancellous bone structure, the interrelationships between parameters of cancellous bone structure have been studied.

Materials and Methods: Two hundred eighty histological sections of human cancellous bone from eight skeletal sites were analyzed. The structural parameters of cancellous bone (BV/TV, BS/TV, BS/BV, Tb.Th, Tb.Sp, Tb.N, and TBPf) were obtained.

Results and Conclusions: This study shows that change to cancellous bone structure is bone volume-dependent in a nonlinear manner. At low bone volume (<15%), structural parameters of cancellous bone, such as trabecular thickness and trabecular separation, change at a much greater rate than at higher bone volume. This suggests that the structural integrity of the cancellous bone may become rapidly compromised when bone volume falls below a critical value. These data describe the complex relationships between bone mass and structure in cancellous bone that are often overlooked in the mass-based paradigm of bone strength. Histomorphometric descriptors of cancellous bone structure highlight the potential for accelerated deterioration of the structure with low bone volume, which leads to increased risk of fracture. From a clinical viewpoint, estimation of an individual's fracture risk is constrained to noninvasive techniques, which only provide bone mineral density or bone mineral content. Therefore, there is a need to better correlate measurement of bone mass with measurements of structural parameters.