In vitro bone strain distributions in a sample of primate pelves

J Anat. 2015 May;226(5):458-77. doi: 10.1111/joa.12294. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


The pelvis is a critical link in the hindlimb locomotor system and has a central role in resisting loads associated with locomotion, but our understanding of its structural biomechanics is quite limited. Empirical data on how the pelvis responds to the loads it encounters are important for understanding pelvic adaptation to locomotion, and for testing hypotheses regarding how the pelvis is adapted to its mechanical demands. This paper presents in vitro strain gauge data on a sample of monkey and ape cadaveric specimens (Macaca, Papio, Ateles, Hylobates), and assesses strain magnitudes and distributions through the bones of the pelvis: the ilium, ischium and pubis. Pelves were individually mounted in a materials testing system, loads were applied across three hindlimb angular positions, and strains were recorded from 18 locations on the pelvic girdle. Peak principal strains range from 2000 to 3000 με, similar to peak strains recorded from other mammals in vivo. Although previous work has suggested that the bones of the pelvis may act as bent beams, this study suggests that there are likely additional loading regimes superimposed on bending. Specifically, these data suggest that the ilium is loaded in axial compression and torsion, the ischium in torsion, the pubic rami in mediolateral bending, and the pubic symphysis is loaded in a combination of compression and torsion. Compressive strains dominate the pelves of all species representatives. Shear strains change with limb position; hip flexion at 45° induces smaller shear strains than mid-stance (90°) or hip extension (105°). The pelvic girdle is a complex structure that does not lend itself easily to modeling, but finite element analyses may prove useful to generate and refine hypotheses of pelvic biomechanics.

Keywords: biomechanics; loading; pelvis; primates; strain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Cadaver
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Pelvis / anatomy & histology*
  • Primates / anatomy & histology
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Shear Strength
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical