Reproducibility of the determination of Young's modulus and energy absorption along the three axes of trabecular bone cubes was analysed by non-destructive compression to 0.5% strain using different testing protocols. These protocols included testing with and without pre-conditioning to a viscoelastic steady state, and different orders of test directions. Reproducibility of conditioned tests was generally better than that of non-conditioned tests. No major effect of changing the order of the test direction was found.
Three-axial conditioned testing of cubes from the proximal tibial epiphysis of five humans revealed a global transverse isotrophy while most cubes showed orthotropy. The ratio between stiffness along the long axis of the tibia and the stiffness in the transverse plane was 3.7 ± 0.4 (mean ± 2 SE). The corresponding ratios for elastic energy storage and viscoelastic energy dissipation were 2.5 ± 0.2. There was no difference between the relative energy loss during a testing cycle (loss tangent) in the three axes.