Predicting ex vivo failure loads in human metatarsals using bone strength indices derived from volumetric quantitative computed tomography

David J. Gutekunst, Tarpit K. Patel, Kirk E. Smith, Paul K. Commean, Matthew J. Silva, David R. Sinacore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We investigated the capacity of bone quantity and bone geometric strength indices to predict ultimate force in the human second metatarsal (Met2) and third metatarsal (Met3). Intact lower extremity cadaver samples were measured using clinical, volumetric quantitative computed tomography (vQCT) with positioning and parameters applicable to in vivo scanning. During processing, raw voxel data (0.4. mm isotropic voxels) were converted from Hounsfield units to apparent bone mineral density (BMD) using hydroxyapatite calibration phantoms to allow direct volumetric assessment of whole-bone and subregional metatarsal BMD. Voxel data were realigned to produce cross-sectional slices perpendicular to the longitudinal axes of the metatarsals. Average mid-diaphyseal BMD, bone thickness, and buckling ratio were measured using an optimized threshold to distinguish bone from non-bone material. Minimum and maximum moments of inertia and section moduli were measured in the mid-diaphysis region using both a binary threshold for areal, unit-density measures and a novel technique for density-weighted measures.BMD and geometric strength indices were strongly correlated to ultimate force measured by ex vivo 3-point bending. Geometric indices were more highly correlated to ultimate force than was BMD; bone thickness and density-weighted minimum section modulus had the highest individual correlations to ultimate force. Density-weighted geometric indices explained more variance than their binary analogs. Multiple regression analyses defined models that predicted 85-89 % of variance in ultimate force in Met2 and Met3 using bone thickness and minimum section modulus in the mid-diaphysis. These results have implications for future in vivo imaging to non-invasively assess bone strength and metatarsal fracture risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-750
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 22 2013


  • Bone
  • Fracture testing
  • Imaging
  • Metatarsal
  • Quantitative computed tomography


Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting ex vivo failure loads in human metatarsals using bone strength indices derived from volumetric quantitative computed tomography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this