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J Biomech. 1999 Apr;32(4):437-41.

The elastic properties of trabecular and cortical bone tissues are similar: results from two microscopic measurement techniques.

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Biomechanics and Biomaterials Research Center, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis 46202, USA.


Acoustic microscopy (30-60 microm resolution) and nanoindentation (1-5 microm resolution) are techniques that can be used to evaluate the elastic properties of human bone at a microstructural level. The goals of the current study were (1) to measure and compare the Young's moduli of trabecular and cortical bone tissues from a common human donor, and (2) to compare the Young's moduli of bone tissue measured using acoustic microscopy to those measured using nanoindentation. The Young's modulus of cortical bone in the longitudinal direction was about 40% greater than (p<0.01) the Young's modulus in the transverse direction. The Young's modulus of trabecular bone tissue was slightly higher than the transverse Young's modulus of cortical bone, but substantially lower than the longitudinal Young's modulus of cortical bone. These findings were consistent for both measurement methods and suggest that elasticity of trabecular tissue is within the range of that of cortical bone tissue. The calculation of Young's modulus using nanoindentation assumes that the material is elastically isotropic. The current results, i.e., the average anisotropy ratio (E(L)/E(T)) for cortical bone determined by nanoindentation was similar to that determined by the acoustic microscope, suggest that this assumption does not limit nanoindentation as a technique for measurement of Young's modulus in anisotropic bone.

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