Mechanical rib testing and geometric analysis were explored as means of evaluating metabolic bone disease. Seventy-nine male patients were examined postmortem. Displacement rate at the loading point and patient age were important variables for which results had to be corrected. Like long bones, ribs apparently undergo progressive circumendosteal resorption with advancing age but unlike long bones, they show no evidence of continued subperiosteal apposition. Effects of selected individual diseases and of all diseases grouped by major organ system were analyzed. Most produced no discernible modification of rib volume, geometry or bending strength as quantified by modulus of rupture. Exceptions were myeloma and arthritis, where the bony material was weakened without remodeling or loss in volume.
Keywords: Rib; Bone; Strength; Structure; Mechanical properties