The anatomical variation of orthotropic elastic moduli of the cancellous bone from three human proximal tibiae was investigated using an ultrasonic technique. With this technique, it was possible to measure three orthogonal elastic moduli and three shear moduli from cubic specimens of cancellous bone as small as 8 mm per side. Correlation with mechanical tensile testing has shown this technique to offer a precise measure of cancellous modulus (Eten = 0.94Eult + 144.6 MPa, r2 = 0.96, n = 34).
The cancellous bone of the proximal tibia was found to be very inhomogeneous, with the axial modulus ranging between 340 and 3350 MPa. A course map is presented, showing measured Young's moduli as a function of anatomical position. The anisotropy of the cancellous bone, determined by the relative differences between the three orthogonal moduli, was shown to be relatively constant over the entire range of cancellous densities tested. The relationship between the axial elastic modulus and the apparent density was found to be approximately linear, as reported by others for proximal tibial cancellous bone.