Understanding the dependence of human trabecular bone strength behavior on anatomic site provides insight into structure–function relationships and is essential to the increased success of site-specific finite element models of whole bones. To investigate the hypothesis that the yield strains of human trabecular bone depend on anatomic site, the uniaxial tensile and compressive yield properties were compared for cylindrical specimens from the vertebra (n=61), proximal tibia (n=31), femoral greater trochanter (n=23), and femoral neck (n=27) taken from 61 donors (67±15years). Test protocols were used that minimized end artifacts and loaded specimens along the main trabecular orientation. Yield strains by site (mean±S.D.) ranged from 0.70±0.05% for the trochanter to 0.85±0.10% for the femoral neck in compression, from 0.61±0.05% for the trochanter to 0.70±0.05% for the vertebra in tension, and were always higher in compression than tension (p<0.001). The compressive yield strain was higher for the femoral neck than for all other sites (p<0.001), as was the tensile yield strain for the vertebra (p<0.007). Analysis of covariance, with apparent density as the covariate, indicated that inter-site differences existed in yield stress even after adjusting statistically for density (p<0.035). Coefficients of variation in yield strain within each site ranged from only 5–12%, consistent with the strong linear correlations (r²=0.94–0.98) found between yield stress and modulus. These results establish that the yield strains of human trabecular bone can differ across sites, but that yield strain may be considered uniform within a given site despite substantial variation in elastic modulus and yield stress.
Keywords: Cancellous bone; Anatomic variation; Yield strain; Strength; Biomechanics