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J Anat. 2007 Mar;210(3):239-48.

Porosity of human mandibular condylar bone.

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  • 1Department of Functional Anatomy, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), Universiteit van Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands.


Quantification of porosity and degree of mineralization of bone facilitates a better understanding of the possible effects of adaptive bone remodelling and the possible consequences for its mechanical properties. The present study set out first to give a three-dimensional description of the cortical canalicular network in the human mandibular condyle, in order to obtain more information about the principal directions of stresses and strains during loading. Our second aim was to determine whether the amount of remodelling was larger in the trabecular bone than in cortical bone of the condyle and to establish whether the variation in the amount of remodelling was related to the surface area of the cortical canals and trabeculae. We hypothesized that there were differences in porosity and orientation of cortical canals between various cortical regions. In addition, as greater cortical and trabecular porosities are likely to coincide with a greater surface area of cortical canals and trabeculae available for osteoblastic and osteoclastic activity, we hypothesized that this surface area would be inversely proportional to the degree of mineralization of cortical and trabecular bone, respectively. Micro-computed tomography was used to quantify porosity and mineralization in cortical and trabecular bone of ten human mandibular condyles. The cortical canals in the subchondral cortex of the condyle were orientated in the mediolateral direction, and in the anterior and posterior cortex in the superoinferior direction. Cortical porosity (average 3.5%) did not differ significantly between the cortical regions. It correlated significantly with the diameter and number of cortical canals, but not with cortical degree of mineralization. In trabecular bone (average porosity 79.3%) there was a significant negative correlation between surface area of the trabeculae and degree of mineralization; such a correlation was not found between the surface area of the cortical canals and the degree of mineralization of cortical bone. No relationship between trabecular and cortical porosity, nor between trabecular degree of mineralization and cortical degree of mineralization was found, suggesting that adaptive remodelling is independent and different between trabecular and cortical bone. We conclude (1) that the principal directions of stresses and strains are presumably directed mediolaterally in the subchondral cortex and superoinferiorly in the anterior and posterior cortex, (2) that the amount of remodelling is larger in the trabecular than in the cortical bone of the mandibular condyle; in trabecular bone variation in the amount of remodelling is related to the available surface area of the trabeculae.

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