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Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Quarterly, Winter 2003
Modeling Bone Remodeling
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Bone Structure and Osteoporosis

This drawing of a spinal vertebra illustrates the exterior shell of compact bone with its interior beams of bone—a meshwork akin to a rigid sponge. The magnifications of this so-called spongy bone show a typical appearance for normal anatomy (left) and the thinner and incomplete beams of bone seen in osteoporosis (right). Such bone loss weakens the weight-bearing capacity of vertebrae, potentially leading to their compression and the "shrinking," or abnormal curvature, of the entire spine over time. In addition, all osteoporotic bones demonstrate an increased propensity to fracture, often described as brittleness.

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