Material properties of human vertebral trabecular bone under compression can be predicted based on quantitative computed tomography

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2021 Aug 18;22(1):709. doi: 10.1186/s12891-021-04571-4.


Background: The prediction of the stability of bones is becoming increasingly important. Especially osteoporotic vertebral body fractures are a growing problem and an increasing burden on the health system. Therefore, the aim of this study was to provide the best possible description of the relationship between the material properties of human vertebral trabecular bone measured under the most physiological conditions possible and the bone mineral density (BMD) determined by clinical quantitative computed tomography (QCT).

Methods: Forty eight cylindric cancellous bone samples with a diameter of 7.2 mm obtained from 13 human fresh-frozen lumbar vertebrae from 5 donors (3 men, 2 women) have been used for this study. After the specimens were temporarily reinserted into the vertebral body, the QCT was performed. For mechanical testing, the samples were embedded in a load-free manner using polymethylmetacrylate (PMMA). The surrounding test chamber was filled with phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and heated to 37 °C during the test. After 10 preconditioning load cycles, destructive testing was performed under axial compression. After determining the fracture site, BMD has been evaluated in this region only. Regression analyses have been performed.

Results: Fracture site had an average length of 2.4 (±1.4) mm and a position of 43.9 (±10.9) percent of the measurement length from the cranial end. No fracture reached the embedding. The average BMD at the fracture site was 80.2 (±28.7 | min. 14.5 | max. 137.8) mgCaHA/ml. In summary the results of the regression analyses showed for all three parameters a very good quality of fit by a power regression.

Conclusion: The results of this study show that QCT-based bone density measurements have a good predictive power for the material properties of the vertebral cancellous bone measured under near to physiological conditions. The mechanical bone properties of vertebral cancellous bone could be modelled with high accuracy in the investigated bone density range.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Cancellous bone; Human vertebra; Material properties.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Cancellous Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed