Assessment of cancellous bone structure: comparison of strut analysis, trabecular bone pattern factor, and marrow space star volume

J Bone Miner Res. 1996 Jul;11(7):955-61. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650110712.


Cancellous bone architecture is an important determinant of bone strength. Recently, several approaches to the assessment of bone structure in histological sections have been described; however, no comparative studies of these different methods have been reported. We have developed computerized methods for the simultaneous assessment of several indices of bone structure, including trabecular bone pattern factor, marrow space star volume, node-to-terminus ratio, trabecular number, and trabecular separation. The relationships between these variables has been examined in iliac crest cancellous bone obtained from 41 healthy subjects, 17 male and 24 female, aged 20-80 years (mean 47.9 years). All structural indices assessed showed significant correlations with cancellous bone area (p < 0.0001). Values for trabecular bone pattern factor and marrow space volume were highly correlated (r = 0.789; p < 0.0001). A comparison of indices obtained by strut analysis with trabecular bone pattern factor and marrow space star volume also revealed significant relationships, especially for the terminus-to-terminus strut length (r = 0.704 and r = 0.634, respectively; p < 0.0001) and node to terminus ratio (r = -0.947 and r = -0.788, respectively; p < 0.0001). The node-to-terminus ratio and trabecular bone pattern factor showed significant relationships with age which were independent of sex, cancellous bone area and trabecular width (p < 0.01 and p < 0.005, respectively). Our results demonstrate strong correlations between the different two-dimensional indices of bone structure in cancellous bone from healthy subjects. Trabecular penetration is likely to be an important determinant of all these variables, which may therefore reflect connectivity; however, direct comparison of these methods with three-dimensional techniques is required to establish their true relationship to bone structure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anisotropy
  • Biological Factors / analysis*
  • Biopsy
  • Bone Marrow / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry
  • Bone and Bones / pathology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Biological Factors