An experimental procedure to perform mechanical characterization of small-sized bone specimens from thin femoral cortical wall

Dario Gastaldi, Massimiliano Baleani, Roberta Fognani, Fulvio Airaghi, Livio Bonanni, Pasquale Vena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cortical shell of the femoral neck plays a role in determining the overall neck strength. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the mechanical properties of cortical tissue of the femoral neck due to challenges in implementing accurate testing protocols for the thin shell. Indeed, mechanical properties are commonly derived from mechanical testing performed on tissue samples extracted from the femoral diaphysis, i.e. assuming tissue homogeneity along the femur. The aim of this work was to set up a reliable methodology to determine mechanical properties of bone samples extracted from thin cortical shell of the femoral neck. A three-point bending test was used to determine elastic and post-elastic properties of cortical bone samples extracted from the inferior and superior femoral neck. An optical system was used to monitor the sample deflection. Accuracy was preliminarily evaluated by determining the elastic modulus of an aluminium alloy. A good intra- and inter-sample variability was found on determining aluminium elastic modulus: 1.6% and 3.6%, respectively. Additionally, aluminium elastic modulus value was underestimated by less than 1%. A pilot trial was performed on a human femoral neck to assess the procedure feasibility. A total of 22 samples were extracted from the inferior and superior femoral neck and successfully tested. Preliminary results suggest that mechanical properties of cortical bone tissue extracted from human femoral neck might be side dependent, the superior tissue seems to exhibit better mechanical properties than the inferior one, at least in terms of yield stress and maximum strain. This supposedly different mechanical competence must be further investigated. The proposed procedure makes it feasible to carry out such studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104046
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online dateSep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Cortical bone
  • Femoral neck
  • Human bone
  • Mechanical properties
  • Three points bending test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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