The effects of density and test conditions on measured compression and shear strength of cancellous bone from the lumbar vertebrae of ewes

Med Eng Phys. 1997 Jul;19(5):464-74. doi: 10.1016/s1350-4533(97)00001-5.


An animal model (the ewe) was used to study mechanical parameters of cancellous bone specimens. Compression and shear tests were conducted on ewe vertebral trabecular bone (L1-L5) from old ewes (mean age: 9 years) under two different conditions: first, at room temperature in air ("standard" test conditions); and secondly, in a physiological saline bath regulated at 37 degrees C. The parameters obtained under "standard" test conditions with a uniaxial compression test were the mean value of the maximum strength (sigma max = 22.3 (7.06) MPa), Young's modulus (E = 1510 (784) MPa), the strain at maximum strength (epsilon sigma max = 3.21 (0.8) percent) and the energy absorbed during the test (W = 0.3 (0.12) MJ.m-3). No significant change was found when the test was carried out in a saline bath at 37 degrees C (p < 0.0005). An original shear test was performed to evaluate the shear strength which was found to vary from 7.5 (4.7) to 14.6 (8.53) MPa under "standard" test conditions depending on the method of calculation. Testing of the specimens in a 37 degrees C physiological saline bath induced a decrease in the shear strength from 32.5 percent (p < 0.0005) to 37.3 percent (p < 0.0001) of those measured under "standard" test conditions. The non-destructive measurement of the Bone Mineral Density (BMD) accounted for up to 73.3 percent of the maximum compressive strength sigma max and 61.5 percent of the maximum shear strength tau max determined in saline solution at 37 degrees C. These results showed that other parameters influencing the mechanical properties of trabecular bone and its structure appeared to be essential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Animals
  • Bone Density*
  • Compressive Strength / physiology*
  • Female
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Sheep
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Temperature