Researchers have been interested in developing techniques to accurately and reproducibly measure the volume fraction of cancellous bone. Historically bone researchers have used Archimedes' principle with water to measure the volume fraction of cancellous bone. Preliminary results in our lab suggested that the calibrated water technique did not provide reproducible results. Because of this difficulty, it was decided to compare the conventional water method to a water with surfactant and a helium method using a micropycnometer. The water/surfactant and the helium methods were attempts to improve the fluid penetration into the small voids present in the cancellous bone structure. In order to compare the reproducibility of the new methods with the conventional water method, 16 cancellous bone specimens were obtained from femoral condyles of human and greyhound dog femora. The volume fraction measurements on each specimen were repeated three times with all three techniques. The results showed that the helium displacement method was more than an order of magnitudes more reproducible than the two other water methods (p<0.05). Statistical analysis also showed that the conventional water method produced the lowest reproducibility (p<0.05). The data from this study indicate that the helium displacement technique is a very useful, rapid and reproducible tool for quantitatively characterizing anisotropic porous tissue structures such as cancellous bone.
Keywords: Cancellous bone; volume measurements; reproducibility; water displacement volumetry