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J Biomech. 2010 Aug 26;43(12):2410-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.04.017. Epub 2010 May 15.

Precision of nanoindentation protocols for measurement of viscoelasticity in cortical and trabecular bone.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Mathematics, University of Eastern Finland, PO Box 1627, Kuopio 70211, Finland.


Nanoindentation has recently gained attention as a characterization technique for mechanical properties of biological tissues, such as bone, on the sub-micron level. However, optimal methods to characterize viscoelastic properties of bones are yet to be established. This study aimed to compare the time-dependent viscoelastic properties of bone tissue obtained with different nanoindentation methods. Bovine cortical and trabecular bone samples (n=8) from the distal femur and proximal tibia were dehydrated, embedded and polished. The material properties determined using nanoindentation were hardness and reduced modulus, as well as time-dependent parameters based on creep, loading-rate, dissipated energy and semi-dynamic testing under load control. Each loading protocol was repeated 160 times and the reproducibility was assessed based on the coefficient of variation (CV). Additionally, three well-characterized polymers were tested and CV values were calculated for reference. The employed methods were able to characterize time-dependent viscoelastic properties of bone. However, their reproducibility varied highly (CV 9-40%). The creep constant increased with increasing dwell time. The reproducibility was best with a 30s creep period (CV 18%). The dissipated energy was stable after three repeated load cycles, and the reproducibility improved with each cycle (CV 23%). The viscoelastic properties determined with semi-dynamic test increased with increase in frequency. These measurements were most reproducible at high frequencies (CV 9-10%). Our results indicate that several methods are feasible for the determination of viscoelastic properties of bone material. The high frequency semi-dynamic test showed the highest precision within the tested nanoindentation protocols.

2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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