Bone specimens were obtained from four different sites in the ilium of necropsy cases using a Jamshidi 8G trephine needle. Undecalcified histological sections were prepared and two structural histomorphometric parameters were estimated. Estimates of the percentage of trabecular bone volume (%TBV) deviated systematically, with variation of the biopsy site around the usual location, increasing in magnitude from the anterior to the posterior ilium. Such differences highlight the importance of understanding the degree of variation which exists in histomorphometric data. The histomorphometry of a vertical biopsy specimen of the iliac crest did not differ significantly from that of a transilial biopsy specimen of similar diameter taken from an adjacent site. When taken at the standard site, and when providing a long core of cancellous bone, with minimal discomfort to the patient, the vertical biopsy specimen compares well with the transiliac biopsy specimen for use for investigating metabolic bone disorders.
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