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J Biomech. 2004 Jan;37(1):27-35.

Comparison of the elastic and yield properties of human femoral trabecular and cortical bone tissue.

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  • 1Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, 2166 Etcheverry Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1740, USA.


The ability to determine trabecular bone tissue elastic and failure properties has biological and clinical importance. To date, trabecular tissue yield strains remain unknown due to experimental difficulties, and elastic moduli studies have reported controversial results. We hypothesized that the elastic and tensile and compressive yield properties of trabecular tissue are similar to those of cortical tissue. Effective tissue modulus and yield strains were calibrated for cadaveric human femoral neck specimens taken from 11 donors, using a combination of apparent-level mechanical testing and specimen-specific, high-resolution, nonlinear finite element modeling. The trabecular tissue properties were then compared to measured elastic modulus and tensile yield strain of human femoral diaphyseal cortical bone specimens obtained from a similar cohort of 34 donors. Cortical tissue properties were obtained by statistically eliminating the effects of vascular porosity. Results indicated that mean elastic modulus was 10% lower (p<0.05) for the trabecular tissue (18.0+/-2.8 GPa) than for the cortical tissue (19.9+/-1.8 GPa), and the 0.2% offset tensile yield strain was 15% lower for the trabecular tissue (0.62+/-0.04% vs. 0.73+/-0.05%, p<0.001). The tensile-compressive yield strength asymmetry for the trabecular tissue, 0.62 on average, was similar to values reported in the literature for cortical bone. We conclude that while the elastic modulus and yield strains for trabecular tissue are just slightly lower than those of cortical tissue, because of the cumulative effect of these differences, tissue strength is about 25% greater for cortical bone.

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