The nanoindentation technique was used to characterize the variation in the elastic modulus and hardness of human lumbar vertebral cortical and trabecular bone. The elastic modulus (and in most cases, the hardness as well) of axially aligned trabeculae cut in the transverse direction was significantly greater than in other orientations of vertebral cortical and trabecular bone. In all cases, the elastic modulus and hardness of bone in the load-bearing direction was greater than in corresponding bone types cut in the other directions. Scanning electron micrographs of cortical shell revealed the Haversian-like canal systems expected in secondary cortical bone, but it was difficult to differentiate by morphology cortical from trabecular bone in the human lumbar vertebrae.
Keywords: nanoindentation; elastic modulus; hardness; vertebral cortical shell; trabecular bone