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Calcif Tissue Int. 1993;53 Suppl 1:S143-6; discussion S146-7.

Trabecular microfracture.

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Division of Tissue Pathology, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide, Australia.


Healing trabecular microfractures are a common feature in cancellous bone. These lesions, when observed in macerated cancellous bone slices, measure about 500 microns in diameter and surround fractures in trabeculae with microcallus. Whether microcallus is a structure acting primarily as a transient brace, preventing relative movement of the fragmented segments and enabling the trabecula to heal, or whether it is a permanent buttress reducing the stress on the fractured strut, preventing the healing process, is not known. Microfractures are the result of normal physical activity. Hence, the widespread occurrence of trabecular microfracture in cancellous bone implies that a reasonable rate of microfracture is physiologically tolerable. There are three putative effects for trabecular microfracture. One is that, in response to impulse loading, cancellous subchondral bone increases its rigidity due to osteosclerosis resulting from bone formed around microfractures. Another hypothesis is that, if sufficient trabecular microfractures occur, they will compromise the trabecular structure of the vertebra and the proximal femur leading to osteoporotic fracture. By inducing remodeling changes, microfractures have an effect on the maintenance of joint structure. There are two histological patterns for microfractures: an early stage, when actively forming woven bone is bridging the fracture; and a more common late stage, when woven bone is inactive. Femoral studies fail to demonstrate that an increasing number of healed or healing microfractures in osteoarthrosis causes the increase of bone in the head of femur. Only one study has reported a significant increase in the number of trabecular microfractures in osteoarthritic femoral heads compared with normal controls. This significant increase was in patients taking antiinflammatory drugs.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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