IS Case 375: Dense metaphyses, unknown etiology
2009 URMC Imaging Sciences
Publication Date: 2010-03-02
Dense metaphyses, unknown etiology
Dense metaphyses refer to increased density at the growing ends of long bones, especially wrists and knees. The most common cause of dense metaphyses is a normal variant. It can be seen after long winter months when children are exposed to sunlight. Another cause is lead poisoning. These "lead lines" indicate past exposure to lead. When lead levels decrease, these lines will decrease and eventually disappear within 4 years. Other less common etiologies include: treated leukemia, healing rickets, heavy metal poisoning (arsenic, bismuth, mercury), recovery from scurvy, vitamin D hypervitaminosis, congenital hypothyroidism, hypoparathyroidism and transplacental infection (toxoplasmosis, rubella, CMV and herpes). It is likely due to an accelerated repair phase of bone after a metabolic insult. In heavy metal poisoning, the metal salt is absorbed into the the bone matrix in place of calcium.
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