Open Access Research article

A novel device for resistance-free biomechanical testing of the metaphysis of long bones

Gina Alicia Mackert1, Christoph Hirche1, Helmut Harhaus2, Dimitra Kotsougiani1, Bernd Hoener3, Ulrich Kneser1 and Leila Harhaus1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department for Hand-, Plastic- and Reconstructive Surgery – Burn Care Center – BG-Trauma Clinic Ludwigshafen, Department for Plastic Surgery of the University of Heidelberg, Ludwig-Guttmann-Str. 13, 67071 Ludwigshafen, Germany

2 Technical and medical devices development and invention center, Remscheid, Germany

3 Department of Social and Legal Sciences, SRH Hochschule Heidelberg, Ludwig-Guttmann-Str. 6, 69123 Heidelberg, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:245  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-245

Published: 21 July 2014



Biomechanical testing is an essential component of bone research. In order to test the metaphyseal region of long bones, a typical location for the nowadays increasing field of osteoporotic bone changes, three-point bending and breaking test devices are suitable and widely used. The aim of our study was to increase the effectiveness of this method by using a newly developed ball-mounted platform design. This new design eliminates the negative effects of friction, present in previous studies, caused by the lengthening of the distal tibia along its diaphyseal axis while sliding over the surface of a fixed aluminum block.


70 tibiae of 35 twelve week old, female Sprague Dawley rats were separated into two groups for a metaphyseal bending/breaking test. Group 1 was made up of the rat’s right tibiae, Group 2 of the left tibiae. Group 1 was tested on a solid metal block according to previously established testing devices whereas Group 2 was tested on the newly designed device: the resistance-free gliding, ball-mounted platform. Stiffness (N/mm), yield Load (N), and failure Load (N) were registered. In the evaluation of both testing procedures, the results of the right and left tibiae were compared according to the rat they originated from.


Stiffness (S) showed highly significant differences (p = 0.002) with 202.25 ± 27.010 N/mm SD (Group 1) and 184.66 ± 35.875 N/mm SD (Group 2). Yield Load (yL) showed highly significant differences (p < 0.001) with 55.31 ± 13.074 N SD (Group1) and 37.17 ± 12.464 N SD (Group2). The mean failure Load (fL) did not differ significantly (p < 0.231) between Group 1: 81.34 ± 11.972 N SD and Group 2: 79.63 ± 10.345 N SD.


We therefore conclude that, used in the three-point bending/breaking test, the mobile, ball-mounted platform device is able to efficiently eliminate the influence of friction in terms of stiffness and yield load. Failure Load was not affected. We suggest that the new ball-mounted platform device, when compared to other existing techniques, generates more accurate test results when used in the three-point bending/breaking test of the metaphysis of long bones.

Biomechanics; Biomechanical testing; Bending and breaking test; Biomechanical devices; Metaphyseal bone; Osteoporosis