The swelling of air-dried single trabeculae from human femur heads was obtained by complete immersion in water and the dimensional changes of the samples were measured over time. The experimental results were analyzed under the viewpoint of the diffusion through a porous material. The dimensional changes of the single trabeculae were 0.26 ± 0.15 percent (length), 0.45 ± 0.25 percent (width) and 1.86 ± 0.97 percent (thickness). The diffusion coefficients were then calculated from the swelling recorded over time and a value of (4.12 ± 0.8) x 10−10(m²s−1) (mean ± standard deviation) was found.
Since the dimensional variations of the specimens is due to the swelling of the collagen bone matrix, this technique could offer new insights for (1) a selective characterization of bone microstructure at the collagen matrix level and (2) the dynamics of diffusion through bone tissue.