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J Biomech. 2009 Mar 11;42(4):498-503. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.11.032. Epub 2009 Jan 25.

Biomechanical properties across trabeculae from the proximal femur of normal and ovariectomised sheep.

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Department of Anatomy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland.


The elastic behaviour of trabecular bone is a function not only of bone volume and architecture, but also of tissue material properties. Variation in tissue modulus can have a substantial effect on the biomechanical properties of trabecular bone. However, the nature of tissue property variation within a single trabecula is poorly understood. This study uses nanoindentation to determine the mechanical properties of bone tissue in individual trabeculae. Using an ovariectomised ovine model, the modulus and hardness distribution across trabeculae were measured. In both normal and ovariectomised bone, the modulus and hardness were found to increase towards the core of the trabeculae. Across the width of the trabeculae, the modulus was significantly less in the ovariectomised bone than in the control bone. However, in contrast to this hardness was found not to differ significantly between the two groups. This study provides valuable information on the variation of mechanical material properties in healthy and diseased trabecular bone tissue. The results of the current study will be useful in finite element modelling where more accurate values of trabecular bone modulus will enable the prediction of the macroscale behaviour of trabecular bone.

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