The presence of excess aluminium was investigated in 204 samples of iliac bone from 197 patients with chronic renal failure by using the aluminon and solochrome azurine staining techniques. The results were compared with values obtained by atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS). Overall, the staining reactions correlated with the AAS data, but the solochrome azurine stain was positive more often than was the aluminon stain (in 90.6% and 62.3%, respectively, of bone samples with greater than the control group mean +3SD (that is, in the range 17.8 to 113.4 micrograms aluminium/g Solochrome azurine staining was consistently positive in all cases, with greater than 23.1 micrograms aluminium/g bone but the corresponding aluminon stain was occasionally inexplicably negative in this range. In some samples solochrome azurine was positive in parts of old unresorbed cement lines when the aluminon stain was negative and the bone aluminium concentration was within the normal range or slightly increased. The stains, particularly solochrome azurine, have the advantage over AAS in that they indicate the location as well as the presence of excess bone aluminium.
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