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J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2014 Jun;34:187-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2014.01.018. Epub 2014 Feb 7.

The compressive modulus and strength of saturated calcium sulphate dihydrate cements: implications for testing standards.

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  • 1Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:
  • 2Division of Applied Materials Science, Department of Engineering Sciences, The Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
  • 3Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Calcium sulphate-based bone cement is a bone filler with proven biological advantages including biodegradability, biocompatibility and osteoconductivity. Mechanical properties of such brittle ceramic cements are frequently determined using the testing standard designed for ductile acrylic cements. The aims of the study were (1) to validate the suitability of this common testing protocol using saturated calcium sulphate dihydrate (CSD), and (2) to compare the strength and effective modulus of non-saturated and saturated CSD, in order to determine the changes in the mechanical behavior of CSD upon saturation. Unconfined compression tests to failure were performed on 190 cylindrical CSD samples. The samples were divided into four groups having different saturation levels (saturated, non-saturated) and end conditions (capped and non-capped). Two effective moduli were calculated per sample, based on the deformations measured using the machine platens and a sample-mounted extensometer. The effective moduli of non-saturated groups were found to be independent of the end conditions. The saturated and capped group showed no difference in the effective moduli derived from different measurement methods, while the saturated and non-capped group showed a significant difference between the machine platen- and extensometer-derived moduli. Strength and modulus values were significantly lower for saturated samples. It was assumed that the existence of water in saturated CSD alters the mechanical response of the material due to the changes in chemical and physical behaviors. These factors are considered to play important roles to decrease the shear strength of CSD. It was proposed that the reduction in CSD shear strength evokes local deformation at the platen-sample boundary, affecting the strength and effective moduli derived from the experiments. The results of this study highlighted the importance of appropriate and consistent testing methods when determining the mechanical properties of saturated ceramic cements.


Calcium sulphate; Ceramic; Mechanical properties; Osteoporosis; Test method

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