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Bone. 1986;7(3):207-12.

Normal vertebral body size and compressive strength: relations to age and to vertebral and iliac trabecular bone compressive strength.


Three thoracic (T5-T7) and three lumbar (L1-L3) vertebral bodies and the anterior parts of both iliac crests were removed from 44 normal individuals aged 15-87 years who had died suddenly. Small, cylindrical samples of trabecular bone (length 5 mm, diameter 7 mm) from T6, L1, and L3 and from the standard site for iliac crest biopsies were compressed in an Alwetron-250 materials testing machine. Whole vertebral bodies from T5, T7, and L2 with cut planoparallel end-plates were compressed in an Instron materials testing machine. The maximum compressive stress value sigma max of the whole vertebral bodies and of the vertical vertebral trabecular bone decreased with age with almost parallel linear regression lines. At any age the sigma max for whole vertebral bodies was about 1.6 MPa (1 MPa = 100 N/cm2) higher than for the trabecular bone. The average cross-sectional area of the vertebral bodies increased by 25-30% from the age of 20 to 80 years. The anisotropic properties of the vertebral trabecular bone (expressed as the ratio between the vertical and horizontal sigma max) increased markedly with age. A highly significant positive correlation was observed between the vertical vertebral trabecular bone sigma max (X) and the total vertebral body sigma max (y = 0.90x + 1.75, r = 0.88, P less than 0.01). The slope was not significantly different from 1, whereas the intercept was positive (P less than 0.01). The average total vertebral body sigma max (range 1.5-7.8 MPa) could be predicted from mechanical tests on horizontal iliac crest bone biopsies with standard error of estimate (SEE) of 0.92 MPa.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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