Engineering and Computer Science Faculty Publications


Age-related Changes in Porosity and Mineralization and In-service Damage Accumulation

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Journal of Biomechanics





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It has been proposed that bone damageability (i.e. bone's susceptibility to formation of damage) increases with the elevation or suppression of bone turnover. Suppression of turnover via bisphosphonates increases local bone mineralization, which theoretically should increase the susceptibility of bone to microcrack formation. Elevation of bone turnover has also been proposed to increase bone microdamage through an increase in bone intracortical porosity and local stresses and strains. The goal of this paper was to investigate the above proposals, i.e., whether or not increases to mineral content and porosity increase bone in-service damageability. To do this, we measured in vivo diffuse damage area (Df.Dm.Ar, %) and microcrack density (Cr.Dn) (cracks/mm2) in the same specimen from human cortical bone of the midshaft of the proximal femur obtained from cadavers with an age range of eight decades and examined their relationships with porosity, mineralization and age. Results of this study showed that Cr.Dn and Df.Dm.Ar increased with a decrease in bulk mineralization. This finding does not appear to support the proposal that damage accumulation increases with low bone turnover that results in increases mineralization. It was proposed however that the negative correlation between damage accumulation and mineralization may be attributed to highly mineralized regions of bone existing with under-mineralized regions resulting in an overall decrease in average bone mineralization. It was also found that microdamage accumulates with increasing porosity which does appear to support the proposal that elevated bone turnover that results in increased porosity can accelerate microdamage accumulation. Finally, it was shown that linear microcracks and Df.Dm.Ar accumulate with age differently, but because they correlate with each other, one may be the precursor for the other.


Linear microcracks; Diffuse damage; Cortical bone; Mineralization; Porosity