We evaluated the orthogonal mechanical properties of human trabecular bone from the major metaphyseal regions with materials testing and quantitative computed tomography (CT). The proximal tibia, distal femur, proximal femur, distal radius, and proximal humerus from fresh cadaver specimens between the ages of 55 and 70 years were excised and prepared for experimentation. The bones were embedded and scanned at 1 or 1.5 mm intervals on a Technicare HPS 1440 and GE 9800 CT scanner. After scanning, the bones were sectioned, producing 8‐mm cubes of trabecular bone which were mechanically tested in uniaxial compression at a strain rate of 1%/s. The testing sequence consisted of preyield tests in two of the three orthogonal directions and failure in the third. After testing, the cubes were evaluated for apparent density and ash weight. The results of the study show that the strength and stiffness of trabecular bone varies significantly within metaphyseal regions and from metaphysis to metaphysis. The power and significance of relationships between density and modulus varied as a function of metaphyseal location. Both linear and nonlinear models were significant, suggesting that trabecular deformation occurs in response to both axial and bending loads. Finally, the need for architectural measures of trabecular bone to predict mechanical properties is emphasized.
Keywords: Trabecular bone; Computed tomography density; Modulus; Orthogonal properties; Anatomic variation