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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1993 Mar;187(3):239-48.

Mechanical implications of collagen fibre orientation in cortical bone of the equine radius.

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Department of Large Animal Clinical Science, Royal Veterinary College, North Mymms, Herts, UK.


Mechanical test specimens were prepared from the cranial and caudal cortices of radii from eight horses. These were subjected to destructive tests in either tension or compression. The ultimate stress, elastic modulus and energy absorbed to failure were calculated in either mode of loading. Analysis was performed on the specimens following mechanical testing to determine their density, mineral content, mineral density distribution and histological type. A novel technique was applied to sections from each specimen to quantify the predominant collagen fibre orientation of the bone near the plane of fracture. The collagen map for each bone studied was in agreement with the previously observed pattern of longitudinal orientation in the cranial cortex and more oblique to transverse collagen in the caudal cortex. Bone from the cranial cortex had a significantly higher ultimate tensile stress (UTS) than that from the caudal cortex (160 MPa vs 104 MPa; P < 0.001) though this trend was reversed in compression, the caudal cortex becoming relatively stronger (185 MPa vs 217 MPa; P < 0.01). Bone from the cranial cortex was significantly stiffer than that from the caudal cortex both in tension (22 GPa vs 15 GPa; P < 0.001) and compression (19 GPa vs 15 GPa; P < 0.01). Of all the histo-compositional variables studied, collagen fibre orientation was most closely correlated with mechanical properties, accounting for 71% of variation in ultimate tensile stress and 58% of variation in the elastic modulus. Mineral density and porosity were the only other variables to show any significant correlation with either UTS or elastic modulus. The variations in mechanical properties around the equine radius, which occur in close association with the different collagen fibre orientations, provide maximal safety factors in terms of ultimate stress, yet contribute to greater bending of the bone as it is loaded during locomotion, and thus lower safety factors through the higher strains this engenders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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