Purpose: In a meta-analysis of the literature we evaluated the present knowledge of the material properties of cortical and cancellous bone to answer the question whether the available data are sufficient to realize anisotropic finite element (FE)-models of the proximal femur.
Material and method: All studies that met the following criteria were analyzed: Young's modulus, tensile, compressive and torsional strengths, Poisson’s ratio, the shear modulus and the viscoelastic properties had to be determined experimentally. The experiments had to be carried out in a moist environment and at room temperature with freshly removed and untreated human cadaverous femurs. All material properties had to be determined in defined load directions (axial, transverse) and should have been correlated to apparent density (g/cm3), reflecting the individually variable and age-dependent changes of bone material properties.
Results: Differences in Young's modulus of cortical [cancellous] bone at a rate of between 33% (58%) (at low apparent density) and 62% (80%) (at high apparent density), are higher in the axial than in the transverse load direction. Similar results have been seen for the compressive strength of femoral bone. For the tensile and torsional strengths, Poisson’s ratio and the shear modulus, only ultimate values have been found without a correlation to apparent density. For the viscoelastic béaviour of bone only data of cortical bone and in axial load direction have been described up to now.
Conclusions: Anisotropic FE-models of the femur could be realized for most part with the summarized material properties of bone if characterized by apparent density and load directions. Because several mechanical properties have not been correlated to these main criteria, further experimental investigations will be necessary in future.