Anisotropic properties of human tibial cortical bone as measured by nanoindentation

Z. Fan, J.G. Swadener, J.Y. Rho, M.E. Roy, G.M. Pharr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of elastic anisotropy on nanoindentation measurements in human tibial cortical bone. Nanoindentation was conducted in 12 different directions in three principal planes for both osteonic and interstitial lamellae. The experimental indentation modulus was found to vary with indentation direction and showed obvious anisotropy (oneway analysis of variance test, P < 0.0001). Because experimental indentation modulus in a specific direction is determined by all of the elastic constants of cortical bone, a complex theoretical model is required to analyze the experimental results. A recently developed analysis of indentation for the properties of anisotropic materials was used to quantitatively predict indentation modulus by using the stiffness matrix of human tibial cortical bone, which was obtained from previous ultrasound studies. After allowing for the effects of specimen preparation (dehydrated specimens in nanoindentation tests vs. moist specimens in ultrasound tests) and the structural properties of bone (different microcomponents with different mechanical properties), there were no statistically significant differences between the corrected experimental indentation modulus (Mexp) values and corresponding predicted indentation modulus (Mpre) values (two-tailed unpaired t-test, P < 0.5). The variation of Mpre values was found to exhibit the same trends as the corrected Mexp data. These results show that the effects of anisotropy on nanoindentation measurements can be quantitatively evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-810
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • anisotropy
  • nanoindentation
  • modulus
  • bone


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