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Biomedical Engineering / Biomedizinische Technik

Editor-in-Chief: Dössel, Olaf

Editorial Board Member: Augat, Peter / Gehring, Hartmut / Haueisen, Jens / Jockenhoevel, Stefan / Lenarz, Thomas / Leonhardt, Steffen / Niederlag, Wolfgang / Plank, Gernot / Radermacher, Klaus M. / Schkommodau, Erik / Schmitz, Georg / Stieglitz, Thomas / Witte, Herbert / Boenick, Ulrich / Jaramaz, Branislav / Kraft, Marc / Lenthe, Harry / Lo, Benny / Mainardi, Luca / Micera, Silvestro / Penzel, Thomas / Robitzki, Andrea A. / Schaeffter, Tobias / Snedeker, Jess G. / Sörnmo, Leif / Sugano, Nobuhiko / Werner, Jürgen / Wintermantel, Erich /

6 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR increased in 2013: 1.227

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Volume 57 (2012)

Influence of formalin fixation on the biomechanical properties of human diaphyseal bone

Klaus J. Burkhart1 / Tobias E. Nowak1 / Jochen Blum2 / Sebastian Kuhn1 / Marcel Welker1 / Werner Sternstein1 / Lars P. Mueller1 / Pol M. Rommens1

1Department of Trauma Surgery, Centre for Musculoskeletal Surgery, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany

2Department of Trauma Surgery, Stadtkrankenhaus Worms, Worms, Germany

Corresponding author: Dr. med. Tobias E. Nowak, Department of Trauma Surgery, Centre for Musculoskeletal Surgery, Johannes Gutenberg University, Langenbeckstrasse 1, 55131 Mainz, Germany Phone: +49-6131-177292 Fax: +49-6131-176687

Citation Information: Biomedizinische Technik/Biomedical Engineering. Volume 55, Issue 6, Pages 361–365, ISSN (Online) 1862-278X, ISSN (Print) 0013-5585, DOI: 10.1515/bmt.2010.043, October 2010

Publication History

Published Online:


Owing to the lack of fresh human bones, formalin-fixed specimens are frequently used in biomechanical testing. However, formalin fixation is assumed to affect the biomechanical properties of bone. The aim of this study was to compare axial and torsional stiffness and bone mineral density in fresh and embalmed human bones. The subtrochanteric regions of 12 pairs of fresh human femora were randomised into two groups for paired comparison. After bone mineral density measurement, one group was preserved in 4% formalin. After 6 weeks, bone mineral density was remeasured and each specimen underwent axial and torsional loading. The formalin group showed significant higher stiffness values for torsional and axial loads than the fresh group. Axial stiffness increased by 14.1%, whereas torsional stiffness increased by 14.3%. These differences were not reflected in bone mineral density values. Formalin fixation significantly influences the stiffness of human cadaveric bones. Fresh bones represent the in vivo conditions better than formalin fixed bones.

Keywords: biomechanical testing; formalin fixed specimens; human bones

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