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Bone. 2010 Jun;46(6):1652-60. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2010.02.021. Epub 2010 Feb 25.

Regional variations of gender-specific and age-related differences in trabecular bone structure of the distal radius and tibia.

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  • 1Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Regional variation in trabecular structure across axial sections is often obscured by the conventional global analysis, which takes an average value for the entire trabecular compartment. The objective of this study is to characterize spatial variability in trabecular structure within a cross-section at the distal radius and tibia, and gender and age effects using in vivo high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT). HR-pQCT images of the distal radius and tibia were acquired from 146 healthy individuals aged 20-78 years. Trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV), number (Tb.N), thickness (Tb.Th), separation (Tb.Sp), and heterogeneity (Tb.1/N.SD) were obtained in a total of 11 regions-the entire trabecular compartment (the global means), inner, outer, and eight defined subregions. Regional variations were examined with respect to the global means, and compared between women and men, and between young (20-29 years old) and elderly (65-79 years old) adults. Substantial regional variations in trabecular bone structure at the distal radius and tibia were revealed (e.g. BV/TV varied -40% to +57% and -59% to +100% of the global means, respectively, for elderly women). The inner-lateral (IL) subregion had low BV/TV, Tb.N, and Tb.Th, and low Tb.Sp and Tb.1/N.SD at both sites; the opposite was true in the outer-anterior (OA) subregion at the distal radius and the outer-medial (OM) and -posterior (OP) subregions at the distal tibia. Gender differences were most pronounced in the inner-anterior (IA) subregion compared to the other regions or the global mean differences at both sites. Trabecular structure associated with age and differed between young and elderly adults predominantly in the inner-posterior (IP) subregion at the distal radius and in the IL and IA subregions at the distal tibia; on the other hand, it remained unchanged in the OA subregion at the distal radius and in the OM subregion at the distal tibia for both women and men. This study demonstrated that not only the conventional global analysis can obscure regional differences, but also assuming bone status from that of smaller subregion may introduce a confounding sampling error. Therefore, a combined approach of investigating the entire region, each subregion, and the cortical compartment may offer more complete information.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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