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J Biomech. 1994 Sep;27(9):1127-36.

Trabecular bone exhibits fully linear elastic behavior and yields at low strains.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Charles A. Dana Research Institute, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA.


Using a protocol designed to reduce experimental artifacts associated with the conventional compression test for trabecular bone, we performed in vitro mechanical testing on bovine tibial trabecular bone to obtain accurate descriptions of the elastic and yield behaviors. Reduced-section cylindrical specimens were preconditioned for eight tension-compression (+/- 0.5% strain) cycles and then loaded to failure either in tension (n = 15) or compression (n = 14). We found that the pre-yield behavior for every specimen was fully linear, indicating that the initial nonlinear 'toe' is an experimental artifact. Analysis of variance on the moduli indicated that there was no significant difference between the tensile and compressive moduli before preconditioning. However, preconditioning decreased the tensile and compressive moduli on average by 8.8% (p < 0.01) and 5.3% (p < 0.01), respectively, with the decrease in tensile modulus being larger (p < 0.01). These small but significant decreases in modulus suggest that initial yielding involves microstructural damage (as opposed to plastic slip) of individual trabeculae and also indicate that the tensile and/or the compressive yield strain of (bovine tibial) trabecular bone is less than 0.5%. The mean tensile strength was approximately 70% of the mean compressive strength, although this difference in strengths may have been affected by the preconditioning-induced damage. Taken together, these results suggest that there are more similarities between the elastic and yield behaviors of trabecular and cortical bone than had been assumed previously.

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