Previous studies have shown that low-density, rod-like trabecular structures develop in regions of low stress, whereas high-density, plate-like trabecular structures are found in regions of high stress. This phenomenon suggests that there may be a close relationship between the type of trabecular structure and mechanical properties.
In this study, 160 cancellous bone specimens were produced from 40 normal human tibiae aged from 16 to 85 years at post-mortem. The specimens underwent micro-CT and the microstructural properties were calculated using unbiased three-dimensional methods. The specimens were tested to determine the mechanical properties and the physical/compositional properties were evaluated.
The type of structure together with anisotropy correlated well with Young’s modulus of human tibial cancellous bone. The plate-like structure reflected high mechanical stress and the rod-like structure low mechanical stress. There was a strong correlation between the type of trabecular structure and the bone-volume fraction. The most effective microstructural properties for predicting the mechanical properties of cancellous bone seem to differ with age.