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A micro-computed tomography study of the trabecular bone structure in the femoral head.

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Magnetic Resonance Science Center, Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-1290, USA.


The goal of this study was to characterize the trabecular microarchitecture of the femoral head using micro-computed tomography (ICT). Femoral head specimens were obtained from subjects following total hip replacement. Cylindrical cores from the specimens were scanned to obtain 3-D images with an isotropic resolution of 26 Im. Bone structural parameters were evaluated on a per millimeter basis: relative bone volume (BV/TV), trabecular number (Tb.N), thickness (Tb.Th) and separation (Tb.Sp), structure model index (SMI), and connectivity (Conn.D). The ICT data show that the first two millimeters, starting at the joint surface, are characterized by more plate-like trabeculae, and are significantly denser than the underlying trabecular bone. Regional differences in the trabecular architecture reveal that the superior pole has significantly higher BV/TV, Tb.N and Tb.Th values, with lower Tb.Sp compared to the inferior and side poles. Because subchondral bone is essential in the load attenuation of joints, the difference in bone structure between the subchondral and trabecular bone might arise from the different functions each have within joint-forming bones. The denser trabecular structure of the superior pole as compared to the inferior pole can be interpreted as a functional adaptation to higher loading in this area.

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