learn bones skeletal head

Osteopetrosis – Skeletal System Diseases

Posted by: Vicki Joseph | May 17th, 2012

What is Osteopetrosis ?

Osteopetrosis is a disease that causes the density of bones in the body to increase over time. In a healthy bone, old cells will be recycled at the same rate as new cells are created, thereby keeping the total amount constant. However, in patients with osteopetrosis, the old cells are not recycled at a sufficiently high rate (or not at all). The disease affects patients of all ages, and if it occurs during early childhood it can impair and even permanently damage bone structure, and in severe cases can result in death.

Furthermore, as the bone density increases, fracture and other injuries will become more likely as the bone becomes stiffer. If the bone formation is affected to a great enough degree, it will physically impinge upon the bone marrow and hence impair the formation of blood cells. This can then cause further complications, in the form of bleeding and anemia.

If osteopetrosis occurs in the skull, the bone can begin to apply pressure on the brain, which can result in neurological damage and deformation of the face, and possible vision impairment or blindness. In these cases, neurosurgery is sometimes required to relieve the pressure on the brain, and repair existing damage.


Usually x-rays are sufficient in diagnosing osteopetrosis, in addition with an assessment of the symptoms described by the patient, and the physical appearance of the bones in question. There is no way to cure a patient with osteopetrosis, but there are a number of treatments available to ameliorate the symptoms, such as corticosteroids which have been known to expedite the rate at which old bone cells are recycled.

Welcome to Learn Bones

LearnBones.com provides a resource on both the bones of the human skeleton and the Muscular System. Learn about the bones, memorize their names, and see their positions in the human body. To get started, click on one of categories above. If you want more information about this site, check out the About or Contact Us pages.

Test Your Knowledge

How Many Bones in the Human Body?

An adult has a total of 206 bones in their skeleton

How many Bones in a Child's Body?

A newborn baby has 270 bones in the skeletal system. Most of their skeleton is made up of cartilage which forms bone as it hardens over time. The bones in a child's skeleton fuse together as they grow, reducing the number, up until about 25 years old.

What is The Strongest Bone in the Human Body?

The femur or thigh bone is the strongest bone in the body. It is situated between the pelvis and the knee. It is also the longest bone in the body and is fully one quarter of your bodies' height.

What is the Weakest Bone in The Body?

The weakest bones in your body are the tiny bones inside your ear that enable you to hear. On the other hand; the most commonly fractured bone is the clavicle.

What is the Hardest Bone in the Body?

The hardest bone in the body is the petrous portion of the temporal bone. The temporal bones are found at the sides and base of the skull and the petrous portion is specifically the part at the base of the skull that contains the organs for hearing.

Where are the Smallest bones in Your Body Located?

The smallest bone in the body is called the stapes. It is a stirrup shaped bone found inside the ear drum that transmits vibrations enabling us to hear.

How many Bones are in the Leg?

A human leg contains 30 bones. There are 26 bones that make up the foot, and the four major bones of the leg, which are the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), the calf bone (fibula) and the knee cap (patella)