Skeletal system: Biomechanical concepts and relationships to normal and abnormal conditions

F. J. Frassica, N. Inoue, P. Virolainen, E. Y.S. Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The human skeleton is a remarkable organ that is uniquely designed to provide structural support and to house the body's hematopoietic system and mineral resevoirs. Seven concepts that will assist the clinician in understanding skeletal function are (1) material properties of bone, (2) stress and strain, (3) bending moments and torsional loads, (4) area moments of inertia, (5) fatigue and catastrophic failure, (6) Wolff's law, and (7) stress risers and open section effect. For example, as the modulus of a bone, a measure of stiffness decreases as in Padget's disease or fibrous displasia and the same levels of stress will cause greater deformations. The sum of these principles also explains the torus fracture (ductility), fracture of the olecranon by contracting tricep muscle (tensile loading), osteoporotic compression fracture of the spine, and the other biomechanical lesions that are encountered. Understanding these basic biomechanical principles can help physicians comprehend neoplastic processes and fractures that are the metabolic responses of the skeleton to stress and that appear on the radionuclide bone scan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Nuclear Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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