Bone: histological preparation
This composite shows the two procedures by which bone is prepared for microscopic viewing. While each procedure has advantages, neither presents a complete image of bone. Therefore, when studying bone, try to imagine the appearance of both preparations, while viewing only one. 400x, 200x
Decalcified bone >
In a decalcified bone preparation, the organic matrix (fibers and ground substance, “X”) and cells (arrows) are preserved (fixed). The inorganic matrix of calcium phosphate is removed. The tissue is then prepared like any other non-calcified tissue. While the cells and organic matrix are well preserved, the fine structure of the matrix is less evident.
Ground bone >
In a ground bone preparation, organic components are not preserved, so bone cells and organic matrix are not present. What remains is the inorganic matrix of calcium phosphate (hydroxyapatite). In this procedure, an unfixed bone is finely ground until it is thin enough to transmit light. The fine structure of the matrix is seen in excellent detail.
Lamellae of bone >
Mature bone is composed of lamellae or sheets of bone that may be arranged concentrically (red arrows) or linearly (green arrows). Lamellae are more readily seen in the ground bone preparation. When calcium phosphate has been removed, as in the decalcified preparation, lamellae are less evident.
Osteocyte lacunae >
In the decalcified preparation, osteocytes are present and can be seen located in spaces called lacunae. In a ground bone preparation, the cells are no longer present, but their lacunae are readily apparent as black spaces.
Image from the University of Cincinnati slide collection.