, Volume 471, Issue 11, pp 3663-3671
Date: 27 Jul 2013

Bone Microarchitecture of the Talus Changes With Aging

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Abstract

Background

Fractures of the talus in the elderly are rare and usually result from high-impact injuries, suggesting only minor age-related bone structure changes. However, total ankle replacement failures with age often result from talar subsidence, suggesting age-related bone loss in the talus. Despite a number of histological analyses of talar microarchitecture, the effects of age and sex on talar microarchitecture changes remain poorly defined.

Questions/purposes

The aim of this study was to analyze changes or differences in the trabecular microarchitecture of the talus with regard to (1) age and (2) sex.

Methods

Sixty human tali were harvested from 30 patients at autopsy of three different age groups (20–40, 41–60, 61–80 years). The specimens were analyzed by radiography, micro-CT, and histological analysis. Given that there was no difference between the left and right talus, static histomorphometric parameters were assessed in three regions of interest of the right talus only (body, neck, head; n = 30).

Results

The talar body, neck, and head were affected differently by age-related changes. The greatest loss of bone volume with age was seen in the talar body (estimate: −0.239; 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.365 to −0.114; p < 0.001). In the talar neck (estimate: −0.165; 95% CI, −0.307 to −0.023; p = 0.025), bone loss was only moderate and primarily was the result of reduction in trabecular thickness (estimate: −1.288; 95% CI, −2.449 to −0.127; p = 0.031) instead of number (estimate: −0.001; 95% CI, −0.005 to −0.003; p = 0.593). Bone structure changes were independent of sex.

Conclusions

Age-related bone structure changes predominantly occur in the talar body, which poses a potential risk factor for total ankle replacement loosening. The moderate changes in the talar neck might explain the persistent low incidence of talar neck fractures with age.

Clinical Relevance

Our findings suggest that before total ankle replacement implantation, careful patient selection with dual-energy xray absorptiometry evaluation may be necessary to reduce the risk of talar implant subsidence.