contributions of bone density and geometry to the strength of the human second metatarsal

We investigated, at the whole bone level, the contribution of bone density and geometry to the fracture load of the second metatarsal, a bone that is prone to stress fracture. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to determine the areal bone mineral density (BMD), projected area of bone, and bone mineral content. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) was used to determine the volumetric cortical bone mineral density (vCtBMD) and cross-sectional moment of interia. Various metatarsal linear dimensions were also measured. The load at failure in cantilever bending was determined. The only linear dimension that had a significant correlation with load at failure was the height of the metatarsal base (r(2) = 0.30, p = 0.008). Utilizing all of the information provided by DXA gave no greater indication of whole bone strength than just BMD alone (adjusted r(2) = 0.40, p = 0.001). Using all of the information provided by pQCT gave no greater indication of whole bone strength than just vCtBMD alone (r(2) = 0. 46, p < 0.001). Volumetric cortical density and BMD were strongly correlated (r(2) = 0.81, p < 0.001). Our data suggest that, in the human second metatarsal, a variable such as material strength (as inferred from cortical density), and not geometry, may be the major factor in determining cantilever load to failure.

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