Dependence of mechanical compressive strength on local variations in microarchitecture in cancellous bone of proximal human femur

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Human cancellous bone is a heterogeneous material. Despite this, most of the published studies report correlations between mechanical properties and morphometric parameters averaged on the whole specimen. This work investigated whether local variations in morphometric parameters were linked to the localized failure regions of cancellous bone. Additionally, it was examined whether local values of morphometric parameters can predict the ultimate stress better than the average bone volume fraction (BV/TV). Cylindrical cancellous bone specimens extracted along the primary compressive group of human femoral heads were studied. These were microCT-imaged to assess the morphometric parameters, compressed to determine the ultimate stress, and rescanned by microCT to visualize the failure region. Failure involved slightly less than half of the free height of the specimens. Significant differences were found in the morphometric parameters calculated in the failure and in the non-failure regions. The cross-sections containing minimum BV/TV values were those most often located inside the failure region (83%, p2=0.84) out of the averaged morphometric parameters. The prediction of ultimate stress increased when minimum or maximum values of the morphometric parameters were taken, with the highest prediction found by considering the minimum BV/TV (R2=0.95). In conclusion, due to the heterogeneity of cancellous bone, there may exist regions characterized by a different microarchitecture, where the bone is weaker and consequently is more likely to fail. These regions mostly contain minimum values in BV/TV, which were found to predict ultimate stress better than average BV/TV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-446
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Bone strength
  • Cancellous bone
  • Mechanical testing
  • Morphometric parameters
  • Trabecular architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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