In the developing proximal tibial epiphysis the anterior ossifying tibial tuberosity is separated from the secondary ossification center of the tibial epiphysis by a bipolar growth plate known as the ‘cartilage bridge.’ We tested the fracture toughness of the central part of this growth cartilage in 18-week old calves in the direction perpendicular to the plate (mean 4962 N/m, SD 1846) and found it to be greater (p = 0.0004) than in the parallel direction (mean 2909 N/mm, SD 1122). Part of the reason for this anisotropy is the presence of vascular channels which cross the bridge from the epiphysis into the tuberosity. In addition, we hypothesize that the anisotropy reflects an arrangement of collagen primarily along the length of the ‘cartilage bridge.’

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