Reduced tissue hardness of trabecular bone is associated with severe osteoarthritis

Enrico Dall'Ara, Caroline Öhman, Massimiliano Baleani, Marco Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated whether changes in hardness of human trabecular bone are associated with osteoarthritis. Twenty femoral heads extracted from subjects without musculoskeletal diseases (subject age: 49-83 years) and twenty femoral heads extracted from osteoarthritic subjects (subject age: 42-85 years) were tested. Sixty indentations were performed along the main trabecular direction of each sample at a fixed relative distance. Two microstructures were found on the indenting locations: packs of parallel-lamellae (PL) and secondary osteons (SO). A 25. gf load was applied for 15. s and the Vickers Hardness (HV) was assessed. Trabecular tissue extracted from osteoarthritic subjects was found to be about 13% less hard compared to tissue extracted from non-pathologic subjects. However, tissue hardness was not significantly affected by gender or age. The SO was 10% less hard than the PL for both pathologic and non-pathologic tissues. A hardness of 34.1. HV for PL and 30.8. HV for SO was found for the non-pathologic tissue. For osteoarthritic tissue, the hardness was 30.2. HV for PL and 27.1. HV for SO. In the bone tissue extracted from osteoarthritic subjects the occurrence of indenting a SO (28%) was higher than that observed in the non-pathological tissue (15%).Osteoarthritis is associated with reduced tissue hardness and alterations in microstructure of the trabecular bone tissue. Gender does not significantly affect trabecular bone hardness either in non-pathological or osteoarthritic subjects. A similar conclusion can be drawn for age, although a larger donor sample size would be necessary to definitively exclude the existence of a slight effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1593-1598
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - May 17 2011


  • Hardness
  • Microstructure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Trabecular bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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