• osteoporosis;
  • microarchitecture;
  • trabecular type;
  • digital topology;
  • μCT imaging


The roles of microarchitecture and types of trabeculae in determining elastic modulus of trabecular bone have been studied in μCT images of 29 trabecular bone samples by comparing their Young's moduli calculated by finite element analysis (FEA) with different trabecular type-specific reconstructions. The results suggest that trabecular plates play an essential role in determining elastic properties of trabecular bone.

Introduction: Osteoporosis is an age-related disease characterized by low bone mass and architectural deterioration. Other than bone volume fraction (BV/TV), microarchitecture of bone is also believed to be important in governing mechanical properties of trabecular bone. We quantitatively examined the role of microarchitecture and relative contribution of trabecular types of individual trabecula in determining the elastic property of trabecular bone.

Materials and Methods: Twenty-nine human cadaveric trabecular bone samples were scanned at 21-μm resolution using a μCT system. Digital topological analysis (DTA) consisting of skeletonization and classification was combined with a trabecular type-specific reconstruction technique to extract the skeleton and identify topological type of trabeculae of the original trabecular bone image. Four different μCT-based finite element (FE) models were constructed for each specimen: (1) original full voxel; (2) skeletal voxel; (3) rod-reconstructed, preserving rod volume and plate skeleton; and (4) plate-reconstructed, preserving plate volume and rod skeleton. For each model, the elastic moduli were calculated under compression along each of three image-coordinate axis directions. Plate and rod tissue fractions directly measured from DTA-based topological classification were correlated with the elastic moduli computed from full voxel model.

Results: The elastic moduli of skeleton models were significantly correlated with those of full voxel models along all three coordinate axes (r2 = 0.38−0.53). The rod-reconstructed model contained 21.3% of original bone mass and restored 1.5% of elastic moduli, whereas the plate-reconstructed model contained 90.3% of bone mass and restored 53.2% of elastic moduli. Plate tissue fraction showed a significantly positive correlation (r2 = 0.49) with elastic modulus by a power law, whereas rod tissue fraction showed a significantly negative correlation (r2 = 0.42).

Conclusions: These results quantitatively show that the microarchitecture alone affects elastic moduli of trabecular bone and trabecular plates make a far greater contribution than rods to the bone's elastic behavior.