Shear strength and fatigue properties of human cortical bone determined from pure shear tests

C. H. Turner, T. Wang, D. B. Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Scopus citations


Shear properties of bone have been inferred from torsion tests. However, torsion often causes spiral fracture planes that correspond to tensile rather than shear failure. We measured the shear properties of human cortical bone in both longitudinal and transverse directions using pure shear tests. Shearing applied transverse to the bone long axis caused fracture along a 45° plane that coincided with maximum tension. This fracture pattern is similar to spiral fractures caused by torsion. Shear strength along the bone axis was 51.6 MPa or about 35% less than that determined using torsion tests. Fatigue tests of human cortical bone in pure shear were conducted. The results agreed well with previous measurements of cortical bone fatigue life in tension and compression, when normalized to strength. Using tibial shear strain magnitudes measured previously for human volunteers, we estimated the fatigue life of cortical bone for different activities, and speculate that shear fatigue failure is a probable cause of tibial stress fractures resulting from impact loading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Human cortical bone
  • Shear fatigue failure
  • Torsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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