Understanding age-related changes is important when considering cartilage-based implants or grafts during rhinoplasty and nasal reconstructive surgery.
To characterize the cellular and architectural changes in human nasal cartilage with aging.
Nasal septal cartilage was harvested from 50 consecutive patients undergoing septoplasty, rhinoplasty, or septorhinoplasty.
Cartilage specimens were stained with hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) and safranin O for cartilage.
Main Outcome Measures
A modified Mankin histologic grading scale was used to analyze each cartilage sample for H&E findings and safranin O staining. Higher H&E scores indicated more degenerative changes, while higher safranin O scores indicated reductions in proteoglycan content within the cartilage matrix, representing decreased active chondrocyte activity. Correlation between H&E and safranin O scores and patient age was determined.
There was positive correlation between safranin O staining scores and age, with higher scores seen with advancing age (P = .01). A linear regression best-fit equation was determined to calculate a potential safranin O staining score for a given age.
Conclusions and Relevance
We have quantitatively determined that advancing age is positively correlated with reductions in cartilage proteoglycan content and active cartilage growth. This finding not only enhances our current understanding of the natural changes that occur in cartilage with aging but may also affect surgical decision making when cartilage grafting is considered during functional, reconstructive, and aesthetic rhinoplasty.
Level of Evidence