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J Biomech. 1990;23(4):313-21.

Mechanical properties of cranial sutures.

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University of Chicago, Department of Anatomy, IL 60637.


Many bones in mammalian skulls are linked together by cranial sutures, connective tissue joints that are morphologically variable and show different levels of interdigitation among and within species. The goal of this investigation was to determine whether sections of skull with cranial sutures have different mechanical properties than adjacent sections without sutures, and if these properties are enhanced with increased interdigitation. To test these hypotheses, bending strength and impact energy absorption were measured for samples of goat (Capra hircus) cranial bone without sutures and with sutures of different degrees of interdigitation. Bending strength was measured under both dynamic (9.7 mm displacement s-1) and relatively static (0.8 mm s-1) conditions, and at either speed, increased sutural interdigitation provided increased strength during three-point bending. However, except for very highly interdigitated sutures loaded slowly, sutures were not as strong in bending as bone. In contrast, sutures absorbed from 16% to 100% more energy per unit volume during impact loading than did bone. This five-fold increase in energy absorption by the sutures was significantly correlated with increased sutural interdigitation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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