Regional Heterogeneity in the Configuration of the Intracortical Canals of the Femoral Shaft


Three-dimensional (3D) characterization of cortical porosity, most of which is under 100 µm in diameter, is usually confined to measurements made in 3–4 mm diameter cylinders of bone. We used micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scanning of entire transaxial cross sections of human proximal femoral shafts (30–35 mm diameter) to quantify regional variation in porosity within the same scan. Complete, up to 10-mm-thick, transaxial slices of femoral upper shafts from 8 female cadavers were studied (n = 3 aged 29–37 years, n = 5 aged 72–90 years). Scanning was performed using high-resolution micro-CT (8.65 µm/voxel). Micro-CT volumes (10 × 10 × 5 mm) were selected via software in the anterior, medial and lateral regions. Images were segmented with voids appearing as 3D-interconnected canals. The percent void-to-tissue volume (Vo.V/TV) and the corresponding void surface area/TV were 86–309 % higher in older than younger subjects in anterior (p = 0.034), medial (p = 0.077), and lateral aspects (p = 0.034). Although not significant, void separation was reciprocally lower by 19–39 %, and void diameter was 65 % larger in older than younger subjects; void number tended to be 24–25 % higher medially and laterally but not anteriorly. For all specimens combined, medially there was higher Vo.V/TV and void surface area/TV than anteriorly (+48 %, p = 0.018; +33 %, p = 0.018) and laterally (+56 %, p = 0.062; +36 %, p = 0.043). There is regional heterogeneity in the 3D microarchitecture of the intracortical canals of the femoral shaft. The higher void volume in advanced age appears to be due to larger, rather than more, pores. However, creation of new canals from existing canals may contribute, depending on the location. High-resolution micro-computed tomography scanning of entire bone segments enables quantification of the 3D microanatomy of the intracortical void network at multiple locations.

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Funding for this study was provided by Osteoporosis Australia/Australia New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, Amgen-GSK Grants Program 2012.

Conflict of Interest

Egon Perilli, Yohann Bala, Roger Zebaze, Karen J Reynolds, and Ego Seeman declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Correspondence to Egon Perilli.

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Perilli, E., Bala, Y., Zebaze, R. et al. Regional Heterogeneity in the Configuration of the Intracortical Canals of the Femoral Shaft. Calcif Tissue Int 97, 327–335 (2015).

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  • Cortical bone
  • Micro-CT
  • Osteoporosis
  • Porosity
  • Voids