Quantitative assessment of the strength and toughness of bone has become an integral part of many biological and bioengineering studies on the structural properties of bone and their degradation due to aging, disease and therapeutic treatment. Whereas the biomechanical techniques for characterizing bone strength are well documented, few studies have focused on the theory, methodology, and various experimental procedures for evaluating the fracture toughness of bone, i.e., its resistance to fracture, with particular reference to whole bone testing in small animal studies. In this tutorial, we consider the many techniques for evaluating toughness and assess their specific relevance and application to the mechanical testing of small animal bones. Parallel experimental studies on wild-type rat and mouse femurs are used to evaluate the utility of these techniques and specifically to determine the coefficient of variation of the measured toughness values.
Keywords: Bone, Small animal models, Strength, Fracture toughness, Crack-resistance curves