Osteoporosis and Bone Atrophy

  • Peter A. Revell


Although there has been a fairly clear understanding of what is meant by ‘osteoporosis’ for many years, there is some potential for confusion with the terms currently in use. Collins (1966) considered osteoporosis to be a generalised form of atrophy of bone, while reserving the actual term ‘bone atrophy’ for a more localised process, such as might occur in a paralysed limb. The term ‘localised osteoporosis’ is, however, frequently used to describe the changes in disused limbs or around severely arthritic joints. Sissons (1955) defined osteoporosis as a structural change in bone in which the supporting tissue is reduced in amount while remaining highly mineralised, and McLean and Urist (1961) thought in terms of increased bone porosity. The current general definition is of a disorder in which there is a diminution of bone mass without detectable differences from normal in the relative proportions of mineralised and non-mineralised matrix (Figs. 8.1, 8.2). Many workers prefer to use the term ‘osteopenia’ to describe this state of affairs and to reserve ‘osteoporosis’ for those cases of osteopenia in which there is actual or potential mechanical failure of bone. There is no general agreement as to the definition of either term and no difference in meaning is implied in the following account, though this might entail a more loose use of words than many would prefer.


Osteogenesis Imperfecta Trabecular Bone Volume Systemic Mastocytosis Idiopathic Osteoporosis Involutional Osteoporosis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter A. Revell
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Pathology, The London Hospital, Bone and Joint Research UnitThe London Hospital Medical CollegeWhitechapelUK

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