Hamdan Medical Journal (previously the Journal of Medical Sciences)

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Bone ‘Quality’ – The Material and Structural Basis of Bone Strength

Ego Seeman
Published in : Journal of Medical Sciences ; Vol 3, No 2 (2010)
DOI : 10.2174/1996327001003020087


The material and structural properties of bone determine its strength. Bone must be stiff — resistant to bending therefore mobility and loading are possible. Bone tissue must also be elastic — able to absorb energy imparted during loading by deforming and returning to the same length without damage. These contradictory properties are achieved by varying the mineral content of the collagen tissue of bone; if under-mineralized the tissue may be too flexible, if over mineralized it may become too brittle. These properties are also achieved by structural design. Tubular bones have the mineralized cortex placed distant from the long axis to increase resistance to bending. In the vertebrae, trabecular bone, an open porous structure, allows greater deformation for absorption of energy like a spring but the peak tolerated loads are lower than in the long bones. These material and structural properties are maintained by bone remodeling and become compromised when remodeling becomes too fast, too slow or unbalanced. Understanding of the pathogenesis of bone fragility, its prevention and reversal depend on finding ways of measuring these properties of bone in vivo.


Bone architecture; bone fragility; bone quality; bone strength; bone

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