Anisotropy and inhomogeneity of the trabecular structure can describe the mechanical strength of osteoarthritic cancellous bone

Simone Tassani, Caroline Öhman, Massimiliano Baleani, Fabio Baruffaldi, Marco Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Osteoarthritic cancellous bone was studied to investigate the development of this pathology, and the functional changes it induces in the bone. In order to predict how the morphological alterations of the tissue induced by the pathology can change the mechanical properties of the structure, two different strategies have been used in the literature: (1) emphasising the influence of structural anisotropy; (2) stressing the highly inhomogeneous characteristics of cancellous bone. The aim of the present study was to verify the theory that mechanical strength of osteoarthritic cancellous bone depends both on tissue anisotropy and inhomogeneity.Twenty-five specimens were extracted from osteoarthritic femoral heads, along selected directions, and analysed by means of a microtomograph. The same specimens were mechanically tested in compression to determine the mechanical strength. The most representative structural parameters, confirmed by a stepwise analysis, were used to define four models to describe the measured mechanical strength. The models were applied neglecting (global analysis) or considering (local analysis) tissue inhomogeneities to verify whether the correlation with ultimate stress could be improved.The coefficient of determination increased from 0.53, considering only bone volume fraction, up to 0.88, combining it with off-axis angle and normalised eigenvalue. A further improvement was found performing a local analysis (R2=0.90), which corresponded to a decrease of 17% in the residual error.The proposed approach of considering both tissue anisotropy and inhomogeneity improved the accuracy in predicting the mechanical behaviour of cancellous bone tissue and should be suitable for more general loading conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1166
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Anisotropy
  • Cancellous bone
  • Inhomogeneity
  • Mechanical behaviour
  • Strength prediction
  • Trabecular structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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