, Volume 14, Issue 5 Supplement, pp 54-56
Date: 29 Aug 2003

Bone microarchitecture and strength

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Introduction

It has been recognized for many years that aging is accompanied by changes in bone microarchitecture and that this affects bone strength. In the second half of the 17th century, the eminent Scottish pathologist Alexander Munro observed that "there is a perpetual waste and renewal of the particles which compose the solid fibres of bone; addition from the fluids exceeding the waste during the growth of the bones; the renewal and waste keeping pretty near par in adult middle age; and the waste exceeding the supply from the liquors in old age; as is demonstrable from their weight, the bones of old people are thinner and firmer in their sides; and have larger cavities than those of young persons [1].

In more recent times, Arnold made detailed drawings of the changes he observed in cancellous bone architecture with age in the human spine [2]. These clearly showed conversion of a honeycomb-like structure, composed primarily of trabecular plates, to a network of interconnected rods.