Osteoporosis International

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 257–261 | Cite as

Age-related changes in resorption cavity characteristics in human trabecular bone

  • P. I. Croucher
  • N. J. Garrahan
  • R. W. E. Mellish
  • Juliette E. Compston
Original article


The depth of resorption cavities in trabecular bone is an important determinant of bone structure and has implications relevant to the cellular pathophysiology of bone loss in osteoporosis. However, assessment of resorption depth has proved difficult and few data are available; in this study we report age-related changes in iliac crest trabecular bone obtained from 41 normal healthy subjects (21 female, 20 male) aged 22–80 years. Using 8-μm undecalcified sections stained with toluidine blue, resorption cavities were quantitatively assessed by a computerized technique in which the eroded bone surface is reconstructed and measurements made interactively. Maximum and mean cavity depth showed no significant correlation with age in either sex. The absolute length of eroded surface was unrelated to age but the eroded surface/BS (%) and the number of cavities/BS (/mm) showed a significant positive correlation with age (r=0.384 and 0.386 respectively,p<0.05). No significant correlation was found between age and either cavity area or density. These results suggest that increased resorption depth does not contribute to agerelated bone loss, although the possibility that deeper resorption cavities occur which result in trabecular penetration and are therefore unrecognizable cannot be discounted. The age-related increase in eroded surface/BS (%) reflects a decreased available trabecular surface and/or increased number of cavities rather than a greater surface length of individual cavities; alternatively it may indicate an increased resorption period. No evidence of increased resorption depth at the time of the menopause was found in this study.


Resorption cavity Resorption depth Trabecular bone 


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Copyright information

© European Foundation for Osteoporosis 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. I. Croucher
    • 1
  • N. J. Garrahan
    • 1
  • R. W. E. Mellish
    • 1
  • Juliette E. Compston
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of Wales College of MedicineHeath ParkUK
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of Cambridge Clinical School, Addenbrooke’s HospitalCambridgeUK

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