Human bone hardness seems to depend on tissue type but not on anatomical site in the long bones of an old subject

Caroline Öhman, Iwona Zwierzak, Massimiliano Baleani, Marco Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been hypothesised that among different human subjects, the bone tissue quality varies as a function of the bone segment morphology. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the quality, evaluated in terms of hardness of packages of lamellae, of cortical and trabecular bones, at different anatomical sites within the human skeleton. The contralateral six long bones of an old human subject were indented at different levels along the diaphysis and at both epiphyses of each bone. Hardness value, which is correlated to the degree of mineralisation, of both cortical and trabecular bone tissues was calculated for each indentation location. It was found that the cortical bone tissue was harder (+18%) than the trabecular one. In general, the bone hardness was found to be locally highly heterogeneous. In fact, considering one single slice obtained for a bone segment, the coefficient of variation of the hardness values was up to 12% for cortical bone and up to 17% for trabecular bone. However, the tissue hardness was on average quite homogeneous within and among the long bones of the studied donor, although differences up to 9% among levels and up to 7% among bone segments were found. These findings seem not to support the mentioned hypothesis, at least not for the long bones of an old subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-206
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Anatomical sites
  • Cortical bone
  • Hardness
  • Microindentation
  • Tissue quality
  • Trabecular bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medicine(all)


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