Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. David Pienkowski


Osteoporosis is a significant healthcare issue due to the increasing elderly population. Bisphosphonates are used to treat osteoporosis by reducing the rate of resorption, increasing bone mineral density (BMD) and thereby reducing fracture risk. Long-term bisphosphonate treatment, however, has been associated with low-energy fractures. Bone microdamage may provide a partial explanation for one of the mechanisms responsible for these fractures since it has been shown to reduce bone toughness, fracture resistance, and bone strength. The goal of this study was to quantify the changes in bone microdamage parameters with the duration of bisphosphonate treatment. This study selected, stained, and histomorphometrically analyzed 40 iliac crest bone biopsies from controls and female patients with osteoporosis treated with bisphosphonates for varying durations (up to 12 years). All subjects were matched for age and low turnover. The results showed that microcrack density and microcrack surface density were significantly greater in patients who took bisphosphonates for at least 5 years compared to those who took bisphosphonates for less than 5 years or not at all. These results reveal novel, clinically relevant information linking microdamage accumulation to long-term bisphosphonate treatment without influences from age or turnover.