The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Histomorphometric differences in tibial cortical bone based on sampling location


1Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University, 2Department of Anthropology, Boise State University, 3Département d'anthropologie, Université de Montréal

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Histomorphometric analysis of cortical bone is often used to estimate age at death of skeletons or to make inferences about mobility in past populations. Although previous studies have indicated that remodeling is variable within a single cross-section of bone, there has been little examination of the nature of these differences in the human tibia. This study investigated whether there are differences in remodeling between the anterior and posterior cortices of human tibiae.

Slides of undecalcified sections of human tibiae at midshaft (N=10) were used to analyze histomorphometric properties including percent remodeled bone, osteon population density (OPD), average Haversian canal size, and average osteon size. These properties were analyzed separately for the anterior and posterior cortices of each section. Non-parametric statistics were used to test for differences between sampling sites and for age-related correlations.

Results indicate that there is a difference in remodeling of the cortical bone that is dependent on sampling location. Compared to the posterior cortex, the anterior cortex has a significantly greater percent of remodeled bone as well as a higher OPD. Although the difference is not as pronounced between sampling locations, it also appears that the anterior cortex generally has greater porosity with larger Haversian canals. No significant difference in average osteon size was found between anterior and posterior cortices. These results support the idea that remodeling can progress in contrasting ways between various areas of the same section of bone. Therefore, care should be taken when comparing histomorphometric properties from different areas of tibial cortical bone.

This study was funded by Stony Brook University.

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