Objectives: The ability to determine human bone stiffness is of clinical relevance in many fields, including bone quality assessment and orthopaedic prosthesis design. Stiffness can be measured using compression testing, an experimental technique commonly used to test bone specimens in vitro. This systematic review aims to determine how best to perform compression testing of human bone.
Methods: A keyword search of all English language articles up until December 2017 of compression testing of bone was undertaken in Medline, Embase, PubMed, and Scopus databases. Studies using bulk tissue, animal tissue, whole bone, or testing techniques other than compression testing were excluded.
Results: A total of 4712 abstracts were retrieved, with 177 papers included in the analysis; 20 studies directly analyzed the compression testing technique to improve the accuracy of testing. Several influencing factors should be considered when testing bone samples in compression. These include the method of data analysis, specimen storage, specimen preparation, testing configuration, and loading protocol.
Conclusion: Compression testing is a widely used technique for measuring the stiffness of bone but there is a great deal of inter-study variation in experimental techniques across the literature. Based on best evidence from the literature, suggestions for bone compression testing are made in this review, although further studies are needed to establish standardized bone testing techniques in order to increase the comparability and reliability of bone stiffness studies.