As several morphological parameters of cancellous bone express more or less the same architectural measure, we applied principal components analysis to group these measures and correlated these to the mechanical properties. Cylindrical specimens (n = 24) were obtained in different orientations from embalmed mandibular condyles; the angle of the first principal direction and the axis of the specimen, expressing the orientation of the trabeculae, ranged from 10° to 87°. Morphological parameters were determined by a method based on Archimedes principle and by micro-CT scanning, and the mechanical properties were obtained by mechanical testing. The principal components analysis was used to obtain a set of independent components to describe the morphology. This set was entered into linear regression analyses for explaining the variance in mechanical properties. The principal components analysis revealed four components: amount of bone, number of trabeculae, trabecular orientation, and miscellaneous. They accounted for about 90% of the variance in the morphological variables. The component loadings indicated that a higher amount of bone was primarily associated with more plate-like trabeculae, and not with more or thicker trabeculae. The trabecular orientation was most determinative (about 50%) in explaining stiffness, strength, and failure energy. The amount of bone was second most determinative and increased the explained variance to about 72%. These results suggest that trabecular orientation and amount of bone are important in explaining the anisotropic mechanical properties of the cancellous bone of the mandibular condyle.
Keywords: Principal components analysis; Morphology; Mandibular condyle; Cancellous bone; Mechanical properties