Age-related properties at the microscale affect crack propagation in cortical bone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The increased risk for fracture with age is associated not only with reduced bone mass but also with impaired bone quality. At the microscale, bone quality is related to porosity, microstructural organization, accumulated microdamage and intrinsic material properties. However, the link between these characteristics and fracture behavior is still missing. Bone tissue has a complex structure and as age-related compositional and structural changes occur at all hierarchical length scales it is difficult to experimentally identify and discriminate the effect of each mechanism. The aim of this study was therefore to use computational models to analyze how microscale characteristics in terms of porosity, intrinsic toughness properties and microstructural organization affect the mechanical behavior of cortical bone. Tensile tests were simulated using realistic microstructural geometries based on microscopy images of human cortical bone. Crack propagation was modelled using the extended finite element method where cement lines surrounding osteons were modelled with an interface damage law to capture crack deflections along osteon boundaries. Both increased porosity and impaired material integrity resulted in straighter crack paths with cracks penetrating osteons, similar to what is seen experimentally for old cortical bone. However, only the latter predicted a more brittle failure behavior. Furthermore, the local porosity influenced the crack path more than the macroscopic porosity. In conclusion, age-related changes in cortical bone affect the crack path and the mechanical response. However, increased porosity alone was not driving damage in old bone, but instead impaired tissue integrity was required to capture brittle failure in aging bone.

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Authors
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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Applied Mechanics

Keywords

  • Fracture energy, Microstructure, Porosity, Tensile test, XFEM
Original languageEnglish
Article number109326
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Volume95
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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