Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. David Pienkowski


Oral bisphosphonate drug therapy is a common and effective treatment for osteoporosis. Little is known about the long-term effects of bisphosphonates on bone quality. This study examined the structural and mechanical properties of trabecular bone following 0-16 years of bisphosphonate treatment. Fifty-three iliac crest bone samples of Caucasian women diagnosed with low turnover osteoporosis were identified from the Kentucky Bone Registry. Forty-five were treated with oral bisphosphonates for 1 to 16 years while eight were treatment naive. A section of trabecular bone was chosen from a micro-computed tomography (Scanco µCT 40) scan of each sample for a uniaxial linearly elastic compression simulation using finite element analysis (ANSYS 14.0). Morphometric parameters (BV/TV, SMI, Tb.Sp., etc.) were computed using µCT. Apparent modulus, effective modulus and estimated failure stress were calculated. Biomechanical and morphometric parameters improved with treatment duration, peaked around 7 years, and then declined independently of age. The findings suggest a limit to the benefits associated with bisphosphonate treatment and that extended continuous bisphosphonate treatment does not continue to improve bone quality. Bone quality, and subsequently bone strength, may eventually regress to a state poorer than at the onset of treatment. Treatment duration limited to less than 7 years is recommended.