Trabecular bone ontogeny in the human proximal femur

Timothy M. Ryan, Gail E. Krovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (SciVal)


Ontogenetic changes in the human femur associated with the acquisition of bipedal locomotion, especially the development of the bicondylar angle, have been well documented. The purpose of this study is to quantify changes in the three-dimensional structure of trabecular bone in the human proximal femur in relation to changing functional and external loading patterns with age. High-resolution X-ray computed tomography scan data were collected for 15 juvenile femoral specimens ranging in age from prenatal to approximately nine years of age. Serial slices were collected for the entire proximal femur of each individual with voxel resolutions ranging from 0.017 to 0.046 mm depending on the size of the specimen. Spherical volumes of interest were defined within the proximal femur, and the bone volume fraction, trabecular thickness, trabecular number, and fabric anisotropy were calculated in three dimensions. Bone volume fraction, trabecular number, and degree of anisotropy decrease between the age of 6 months and 12 months, with the lowest values for these parameters occurring in individuals near 12 months of age. By age 2-3 years, the bone volume, thickness, and degree of anisotropy increase slightly, and regions in the femoral neck become more anisotropic corresponding to the thickening of the inferior cortical bone of the neck. These results suggest that trabecular structure in the proximal femur reflects the shift in external loading patterns associated with the initiation of unassisted walking in infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-602
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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