Assessment of cancellous bone quality in severe osteoarthrosis: bone mineral density, mechanics, and microdamage

Bone. 1998 Apr;22(4):381-8. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(97)00298-6.


The role of bone microdamage (microscopic cracks or microcracks and ultrastructural collagen matrix and bone mineral damage) in diseases such as osteoarthrosis and osteoporosis is poorly understood. Microdamage accumulation in vivo is influenced by age and cyclic loading, therefore, it would be useful if the burden of microdamage in bone could be assessed by noninvasive measures such as the radiological measurement of bone mineral density (BMD). The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between BMD, compressive strength and stiffness, and microdamage in the cancellous bone of the proximal femur in patients with severe osteoarthrosis. Trabecular bone core samples, from the intertrochanteric region of the femur, were obtained from 34 patients, with a mean age of 70.3 +/- 11.1 years, undergoing total hip arthroplasty for osteoarthrosis. Cores selected from contact X-ray images were used for BMD measurement, compressive mechanical testing or left untested (uncrushed), en bloc staining for microdamage, and bone histomorphometry. The study shows a strong dependence of both the elastic modulus and ultimate failure stress of the bone samples on BMD and a significant relationship between the elastic modulus and trabecular anisotropy (Tr. An). In multiple linear regression, BMD and Tr. An together account for about 70% of the variance in the elastic modulus. Then including microcrack crack density (Cr.Dn) and damage volume fraction (DxV/BV) variables, Tr. An alone accounts for a relatively small amount of the variation (8.5%) in ultimate failure stress and elastic modulus. The Cr.Dn accounts for more of the variation in the ultimate failure stress than in the elastic modulus (50% vs. 7%). In this experiment, data for Cr.Dn provide a measure of damage associated with the ultimate failure of cancellous bone. In specimens that were not mechanically tested, in vivo microcrack accumulation increases exponentially with age. In conclusion, data from this study suggest that BMD and Cr.Dn are the major determinants of cancellous bone strength, whereas BMD and Tr. An are major determinants of cancellous bone stiffness. In bone specimens subjected to compressive testing there was no relationship between microdamage and BMD, suggesting that BMD cannot be used to monitor changes in the mechanical properties of bone due to microdamage accumulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anisotropy
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Coloring Agents
  • Femur / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Coloring Agents