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J Biomech. 2012 Jan 3;45(1):27-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.08.004. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Direct in vivo strain measurements in human bone-a systematic literature review.

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College of Kinesiology, [corrected] University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

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  • J Biomech. 2012 Feb 2;45(3):623.


Bone strain is the governing stimuli for the remodeling process necessary in the maintenance of bone's structure and mechanical strength. Strain gages are the gold standard and workhorses of human bone experimental strain analysis in vivo. The objective of this systematic literature review is to provide an overview for direct in vivo human bone strain measurement studies and place the strain results within context of current theories of bone remodeling (i.e. mechanostat theory). We employed a standardized search strategy without imposing any time restriction to find English language studies indexed in PubMed and Web of Science databases that measured human bone strain in vivo. Twenty-four studies met our final inclusion criteria. Seven human bones were subjected to strain measurements in vivo including medial tibia, second metatarsal, calcaneus, proximal femur, distal radius, lamina of vertebra and dental alveolar. Peak strain magnitude recorded was 9096 με on the medial tibia during basketball rebounding and the peak strain rate magnitude was -85,500 με/s recorded at the distal radius during forward fall from standing, landing on extended hands. The tibia was the most exposed site for in vivo strain measurements due to accessibility and being a common pathologic site of stress fracture in the lower extremity. This systematic review revealed that most of the strains measured in vivo in different bones were generally within the physiological loading zone defined by the mechanostat theory, which implies stimulation of functional adaptation necessary to maintain bone mechanical integrity.

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