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Bone. 2009 Nov;45(5):882-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2009.06.031. Epub 2009 Jul 15.

Regional, age and gender differences in architectural measures of bone quality and their correlation to bone mechanical competence in the human radius of an elderly population.

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Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


An accurate prediction of bone strength in the human radius is of major interest because distal radius fractures are amongst the most common in humans. The objective of this study was to determine gender and age-related changes in bone morphometry at the radius and how these relate to bone strength. Specifically, our aims were to (i) analyze gender differences to get an insight into different bone quantities and qualities between women and men, (ii) to determine which microarchitectural bone parameters would best correlate with strength, (iii) to find the region of interest for the best assessment of bone strength, and (iv) to determine how loss of bone quality depends on age. Intact right forearms of 164 formalin-fixed cadavers from a high-risk elderly population were imaged with a new generation high-resolution pQCT scanner (HR-pQCT). Morphometric indices were derived for six different regions and were related to failure load as assessed by experimental uniaxial compression testing. Significant gender differences in bone quantity and quality were found that correlated well with measured failure load. The most relevant region to determine failure load based on morphometric indices assessed in this study was located just below the proximal end of the subchondral plate; this region differed from the one measured clinically today. Trends in bone changes with increasing age were found, even though for all morphometric indices the variation between subjects was large in comparison to the observed age-related changes. We conclude that HR-pQCT systems can determine how gender and age-related changes in morphometric parameters relate to bone strength, and that HR-pQCT is a promising tool for the assessment of bone quality in patient populations.

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