Bone histomorphometry using free and commonly available software

Kevin P. Egan, Tracy A. Brennan, Robert J. Pignolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Aims: Histomorphometric analysis is a widely used technique to assess changes in tissue structure and function. Commercially available programs that measure histomorphometric parameters can be cost-prohibitive. In this study, we compared an inexpensive method of histomorphometry to a current proprietary software program. Methods and results: Image J and Adobe Photoshop® were used to measure static and kinetic bone histomorphometric parameters. Photomicrographs of Goldner's trichrome-stained femurs were used to generate black-and-white image masks, representing bone and non-bone tissue, respectively, in Adobe Photoshop®. The masks were used to quantify histomorphometric parameters (bone volume, tissue volume, osteoid volume, mineralizing surface and interlabel width) in Image J. The resultant values obtained using Image J and the proprietary software were compared and differences found to be statistically non-significant. Conclusions: The wide-ranging use of histomorphometric analysis for assessing the basic morphology of tissue components makes it important to have affordable and accurate measurement options available for a diverse range of applications. Here we have developed and validated an approach to histomorphometry using commonly and freely available software that is comparable to a much more costly, commercially available software program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1173
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Bone
  • Histomorphometry
  • Image J
  • Image analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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