Occurrence of osteon banding in adult human cortical bone

Academic Article


  • © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Objectives: Differentiating human from nonhuman fragmented bone is often accomplished using histological methods if the observation of gross morphology proves insufficient. Linearly oriented primary and/or secondary osteonal systems, commonly referred to as osteon bands, are described as a strong indicator of nonhuman bone, particularly the occurrence of multiple bands. This phenomenon has been conventionally documented using two-dimensional (2D) histology, but such analyses are destructive and typically limited to a single cross-section. Progressive developments in high-resolution X-ray imaging, however, allow for the nondestructive three-dimensional (3D) visualization of bone microarchitecture. The primary objective of the current research was to visualize and document the occurrence of osteon banding in adult human cortical bone using high-resolution synchrotron radiation-based micro-Computed Tomography (SR micro-CT). Materials and methods: Synchrotron radiation-based micro-CT scanning was carried out at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) national synchrotron facility. The presence or absence of osteon banding was visualized in human skeletal elements from three adult males with representative samples from all regions of the skeleton (n = 129). If present, osteon banding was described and quantified. Results: Results indicated that 23 of 129 human cortical bone specimens exhibited osteon banding, representing 18% of the sample. Linear arrangements of primary and/or secondary osteons were observed in the following skeletal elements: temporal, parietal, frontal, occipital, clavicle, mandible, femur, tibia, ulna, second metatarsal, and sacrum. Discussion: The present work represents the first 3D examination of inter-element variation in osteon banding in adult human cortical bone. Findings indicate that the presence of multiple osteon bands in a single specimen is not diagnostic of nonhuman bone. As such, osteon banding categorically should not be taken as evidence of nonhuman bone in forensic and archaeological contexts.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Andronowski JM; Pratt IV; Cooper DML
  • Start Page

  • 635
  • End Page

  • 642
  • Volume

  • 164
  • Issue

  • 3