Bone microstructure in osteoporosis: Transilial biopsy and histomorphometry

M. Janet Barger-Lux, Robert R. Recker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The bone fragility of osteoporosis is not fully explained by a deficit in bone mass. Histomorphometric examination of transilial bone biopsies has identified microstructural defects that - in light of what is known about the mechanical properties of structural materials - further compromise bone strength. Histomorphometric measures describe the biopsy specimen, the configuration of its trabeculae in space, and the extent to which its trabecular lattice is intact. In postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis, a deficit of both cortical and cancellous bone is typical, i.e., both cortical thickness and cancellous bone volume tend to be substantially reduced. Much of the cancellous bone deficit can be attributed to loss of entire trabecular elements rather than to generalized thinning of trabeculae. Direct measures of trabecular connectivity confirm this impression: women with established osteoporosis have fewer trabecular nodes and more termini than healthy women, even at the same cancellous bone volume. Evidence for accumulated microdamage in transilial biopsies is circumstantial, and the phenomenon itself may well be localized to fracture sites. Histomorphometric data from transilial biopsies comprise a large body of information about the structural and functional character of osteoporosis and provide valuable information about the effects of new treatments on bone microstructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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