Histomorphometry or quantitative histology is the analysis on histologic sections of bone resorption, formation and structure parameters. It is the only technique allowing a dynamic evaluation of osteoblast activity after labelling with tetracycline. In addition, the use of computed image analyzer allows the possibility to assess bone microarchitecture. Histomorphometric bone biopsy is a reliable and well-tolerated procedure. Bone samples are taken at iliac crest level under local anesthesia and sedation. Samples are put into methyl-metacrilate resin where the sections are prepared for the microscopic analysis of different histomorphometric parameters. Histomorphometry is used to exclude or confirm the diagnosis of osteomalacia and also to evaluate bone damage associated with particular treatments (for example, glucocorticoids, anticonvulsants) or in case of rare bone diseases (osteogenesis imperfecta). Recently, this approach has been repurposed for the evaluation of bone disease during Chronic Kidney Disease, particularly to differentiate high and low bone turnover osteodystrophy. Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) guidelines have pointed out the situations requiring bone biopsy for histomorphometric analysis. New techniques using molecular biology will improve the accuracy and predictive value of this approach.
KEYWORDS: histomorphometry, bone histology, bone diseases, microarchitecture, mesenchymal stem cells