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Bone. 2000 Aug;27(2):271-6.

Trabecular architecture in women and men of similar bone mass with and without vertebral fracture: I. Two-dimensional histology.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Sciences, Worsley Medical and Dental Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


While osteoporosis is characterized by a low bone mass there is a well-recognized overlap in bone mineral density (BMD) measurements between groups of subjects with and without vertebral fracture. To investigate whether differences in trabecular architecture may contribute to the presence or absence of fractures independent of the bone mass, fracture and nonfracture groups matched for age, gender, and BMD were assembled. Transiliac biopsies and corresponding lumbar spine BMD measurements from 31 women and 16 men with vertebral fracture were compared with those from 22 women and 11 men without fracture. Lumbar BMD (L1-4) was measured using a Hologic 2000 densitometer. The lumbar BMD was similar in women with and without fracture (0.63 g/cm(3) +/- 0.10 SD and 0.71 g/cm(3) +/- 0.17 SD, n.s.) and in men with and without fracture (0.72 g/cm(3) +/- 0.12 SD and 0.76 g/cm(3) +/- 0.17 SD, n.s.). Undecalcified iliac crest biopsy sections, 8 microm thick, were analyzed for remodeling variables and trabecular architecture using OsteoMeasure and TAS image analysis systems. No significant difference was found in either gender between fracture and nonfracture groups in percent bone volume (mean 10% in all groups), or in the wide range of remodeling and architectural variables measured, including the trabecular width, number, and separation, mean trabecular plate density and fractal dimension, as well as several indirect indices of connectivity including the node:terminus ratio, marrow star volume, and trabecular pattern factor. On the basis of this evidence it was concluded that there is no difference in the trabecular architecture between patients with crush fracture and controls when account is taken of bone mass. This suggests that microanatomical disruption is a predictable intrinsic feature of bone loss. However, there remains the possibility that the two-dimensional character of the structural deterioration measured indirectly is not sufficiently sensitive for the complex cancellous system. This is considered further in part II.

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