An examination of histomorphometric relationships in the anterior and posterior human femoral cortex

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Static cortical bone histomorphometry utilised in forensic age-at-death estimation generally examines only the anterior femoral mid-shaft, as biomechanical strain at the posterior femur is thought to result in increased bone remodelling, osteon density and adversely affect age-at-death estimates. As osteon density increases there is a corresponding decrease in geometric variables, such as osteon area and Haversian canal diameter. The present study tests whether the inverse relationship between osteon density and osteon geometry is reflected in a modern documented Australian sample, and if this relationship differs between the anterior and posterior femoral mid-shaft.
Materials and methods

The study sample comprises 215 femoral microradiographs (117♂ 98♀) of recorded age (18‒97 years) from the Melbourne Femur Reference Collection (MFRC). The following variables were measured in Image J across six 1 mm2 regions of interest (ROIs) from the anterior and posterior; mean intact and fragmentary secondary osteon count, osteon population density, osteon and Haversian canal area, perimeter, and diameter.

Osteon area was positively correlated with Haversian canal size and shape metrics, and negatively correlated with osteon density. Chronological age was significantly correlated with most variables. There were significant between-group effects between the youngest (18‒34 years) and all other age groups (35‒49, 50–74 and 75 + years) for both regions.

Our findings support an increased rate of remodelling associated with decreases in osteon geometry in the anterior and posterior femur. Future studies should examine static osteon histomorphometry using anterior and posterior measurements in larger samples of documented age and sex.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2021


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