Are the human bones about equal in density? Or is there any published data on the mean + s.d. density for a given bone available?
Interesting question that I'd not considered before.
Bone density is commonly measured by assessing the bone mineral density (BMD) using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DMA), literally the g/cm2 of minerals in the bone.
Having had a search I can only find values for a small number of bones commonly measured when testing for osteoporosis (characterised by reduced BMD). Unsurprisingly the age and sex of the individual has a large effect on BMD; after puberty males have higher BMD (1) and during ageing this then declines, sometimes dramatically (2).
These values are from a Vietnamese study (3) show that the hip and the spine are different.
Men [ mean (SD) ]
- Femoral neck: 0.85 (0.13)
- Total hip: 1.00 (0.13)
- Lumbar spine: 1.05 (0.12)
Women [ mean (SD) ]
- Femoral neck: 0.80 (0.11)
- Total hip: 0.95 (0.12)
- Lumbar spine: 0.96 (0.11)
There must be other reference values for other bones in different populations but I don't have time to look them up now! Good luck in your own research.
- Bonjour JP, Rizzoli R. Bone acquisition in adolescence. In: Marcus R, Feldman D, Kelsey J, eds. Osteoporosis. San Diego, CA, Academic Press, 1996:465–476
- Cummings SR, Kelsey JL, Nevitt MC, O’Dowd KJ (1985) Epidemiology of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures. Epidemiol Rev 7:178–208
- Ho-Pham, et al. (2011) Reference Ranges for Bone Mineral Density and Prevalence of Osteoporosis in Vietnamese Men and Women. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 12:182 doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-182