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Physiol Meas. 2005 Apr;26(2):S119-31. Epub 2005 Mar 29.

Prediction of mechanical properties of human trabecular bone by electrical measurements.

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  • 1Department of Applied Physics, University of Kuopio, POB 1627, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland. Joanna.Sierpowska@uku.fi


In trabecular bone, the interrelationships of electrical and dielectric properties with mechanical characteristics are poorly known. Information on these relations is crucial for evaluation of the diagnostic potential of impedance techniques. In this study, electrical and dielectric properties, i.e. permittivity, conductivity, phase angle, loss factor, specific impedance and dissipation factor of human trabecular bone samples (n=26, harvested from the distal femur and proximal tibia) were characterized in a wide frequency range (50 Hz-5 MHz). Mechanical properties, i.e. Young's modulus, ultimate strength, yield stress, yield strain and resilience of the samples (n=20) were determined by using destructive compressive testing. Subsequently, measurements of electrical and dielectric properties were repeated after mechanical testing. The measurements were also repeated for the control samples (n=6) that were not mechanically tested. Electrical, dielectric or mechanical properties showed no significant differences between the intact femoral and tibial samples. The electrical and dielectric parameters as well as the linear correlations between the dielectric and electrical parameters with mechanical parameters were strongly frequency dependent. At the frequency of 1.2 MHz, the relative permittivity showed the strongest linear correlations with the Young's modulus (r=0.71, p<0.01, n=20) and ultimate strength (r=0.73, p<0.01, n=20). Permittivity and dissipation factor showed statistically significant changes after mechanical testing. Our results suggest that the measurements of low frequency electrical and dielectric properties may provide information on the mechanical status of trabecular bone and, possibly, may even help to diagnose bone microdamage. In the future, these measurement techniques may be further developed for use during open surgery, such as bone grafting or total hip replacement surgery.

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