Three-dimensional analysis of nonhuman primate trabecular architecture using micro-computed tomography

R. J. Fajardo, R. Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Until recently, detailed analyses of the architecture of nonhuman primate cancellous bone have not been possible due to a combination of methodological constraints, including poor resolution imaging or destructive protocols. The development of micro-computed tomography (μCT) and morphometric methods associated with this imaging modality offers anthropologists a new means to study the comparative architecture of cancellous bone. Specifically, μCT will allow anthropologists to investigate the relationship between locomotor behavior and trabecular structure. We conducted a preliminary study on the trabecular patterns in the proximal humerus and femur of Hylobates lar, Ateles paniscus, Macaca mulatta, and Papio anubis to investigate the quantitative differences in their trabecular architecture and evaluate the potential of μCT in anthropological inquiry, μCT allows the researcher to evaluate variables beyond simple two-dimensional orientations and radiographic densities. For example, this methodology facilitates the study of trabecular thickness and bone volume fraction using three-dimensional data. Results suggest that density-related parameters do not reliably differentiate suspensory-climbing species from quadrupedal species. However, preliminary results indicate that measurements of the degree of anisotropy, a measure of trabecular orientation uniformity, do distinguish suspensory-climbing taxa from more quadrupedal species. The μCT method is an advance over conventional radiography and medical CT because it can accurately resolve micron-sized struts that make up cancellous bone, and from these images a wide array of parameters that have been demonstrated to be related to cancellous bone mechanical properties can be measured. Methodological problems pertinent to any comparative μCT study of primate trabecular architecture are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 20 2001


  • Cancellous bone
  • Degree of anisotropy
  • Proximal femur
  • Proximal humerus
  • μCT methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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