1Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2Small Animal Imaging Facility, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, 3Department of Pediatrics, Oregon Health & Science University, 4Experimental Diagnostic Imaging, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
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Microstructurally, bone loss occurs with increasing age in the trabeculae. Using radiography, other researchers have studied the applicability of using trabecular architecture as an indicator of age at death. However, primary and secondary groups of the trabeculae are impossible to distinguish using radiography and fine trabeculae that are resorbed first are not visually apparent radiographically until at least 30% of the bone has been lost. A new methodology that can recognize these trabeculae was tested for its applicability to resolve this problem. Intact proximal femora (n=70) from the Tell Abraq collection in United Arab Emirates (dating to 2200-2000 B.C.) were analyzed using Micro-CT scanning at 93 μm isometric resolution using an eXplore Locus RS Small Animal MicroCT Scanner (GE Healthcare, London, Ontario) in order to obtain an accurate age of death and for understanding disease patterns for individuals buried in an undisturbed Bronze Age tomb. Image analysis was performed using visualization tool MicroView 2.1.2. Images obtained through this method were superior to traditional radiography, and revealed resorption of the finer trabeculae structures. One surprising conclusion was that individuals without signs of age-related osteoarthritis were actually much older based on the trabeculae. Age estimation revealed that there were 25 individuals (35.7%) aged between 30-40, and 19 (27.1%) aged between 40-50 year category. There were several individuals deemed to be over the age of 60. While most of the individuals were free of pathology, there were a few cases (approx. 8%) of osteoarthritis, osteopororsis and one case of extreme femoral head fracture.