Quantitative microcomputed tomography using synchrotron radiation (SR μCT) was used to assess the effects of a sequential etidronate therapy on both three‐dimensional (3D) microarchitecture and degree of mineralization of bone (DMB) in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Thirty‐two iliac crest biopsy specimens were taken from 14 patients with osteoporosis (aged 64 ± 1.8 years) before (baseline) and after 1 year of etidronate treatment, and after 2 years of treatment for four of the patients. The samples were imaged at high spatial resolution (voxel size = 10 μm) using the microtomography system developed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France. Three‐dimensional microarchitecture parameters were calculated and compared with those obtained from conventional histomorphometry. In addition, the DMB was evaluated also in 3D. No significant statistical changes regarding bone mass and structural parameters were observed in histomorphometry or 3D analyses. The distribution of the DMB in cortical and trabecular bone showed a trend to a shift toward highest mineralization values after 1 year of etidronate treatment (3.88% and 1.24% in cortical and trabecular bone, respectively). This trend was more evident after 2 years. The study also showed that SR μCT is an accurate technique and the only one for quantifying both the mineralization and the microarchitecture of bone samples at the same time in 3D.
Keywords: bone architecture; degree of mineralization of bone; osteoporosis; quantitative microtomogra-phy; etidronate