Growth arrest lines (also known as growth resumption lines) are alternating transverse rings of sclerosis at the metaphysis of a long bone.
The radiographic finding occurs from alternating cycles of osseous growth arrest and growth resumption. This appears to result from pathologic levels of stress during bone development (e.g. disease, malnutrition).
The phenomenon has been described as originating from "osteoblasts, deprived of a longitudinally oriented template of calcifIed cartilage matrix, [continuing] their activities on the horizontally disposed template produced by the undersurface of the epiphyseal cartilage" 2.
Some contend that the lines are not necessarily indicators of development stress, but may be a variation of normal 4.
Trabeculae immediately above and below a growth arrest line are normal, but the Harris line has three histological characteristics 3:
- non-lamellar appearance on histology
- a complete lack of osteocyte lacunae
- presence of irregularly distributed tubular structures
- radiopaque transverse line in the metaphyses of long bones
History and etymology
First described by Dr H Harris in 1927 (and sometimes called "Harris lines").
- 1. Harris HA. Cessation of growth in long bones in health and disease. Mayo Clin Proc. 1927;2:228–229
- 2. PARK EA. THE IMPRINTING OF NUTRITIONAL DISTURBANCES ON THE GROWING BONE. Pediatrics. 1996;33: SUPPL:815-62. Pubmed citation
- 3. Miszkiewicz JJ. Histology of a Harris line in a human distal tibia. J. Bone Miner. Metab. . doi:10.1007/s00774-014-0644-0 - Pubmed citation
- 4. Papageorgopoulou C, Suter SK, Rühli FJ et-al. Harris lines revisited: prevalence, comorbidities, and possible etiologies. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 2011;23 (3): 381-91. doi:10.1002/ajhb.21155 - Pubmed citation