Characterization of the bone-metal implant interface by Digital Volume Correlation of in-situ loading using neutron tomography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Metallic implants are commonly used as surgical treatments for many orthopedic conditions. The long-term stability of implants relies on an adequate integration with the surrounding bone. Unsuccessful integration could lead to implant loosening. By combining mechanical loading with high-resolution 3D imaging methods, followed by image analysis such as Digital Volume Correlation (DVC), we aim at evaluating ex vivo the mechanical resistance of newly formed bone at the interface. X-rays tomography is commonly used to image bone but induces artefacts close to metallic components. Utilizing a different interaction with matter, neutron tomography is a promising alternative but has not yet been used in studies of bone mechanics. This work demonstrates that neutron tomography during in situ loading is a feasible tool to characterize the mechanical response of bone-implant interfaces, especially when combined with DVC. Experiments were performed where metal screws were implanted in rat tibiae during 4 weeks. The screws were pulled-out while the samples were sequentially imaged in situ with neutron tomography. The images were analyzed to quantify bone ingrowth around the implants. DVC was used to track the internal displacements and calculate the strain fields in the bone during loading. The neutron images were free of metal-related artefacts, which enabled accurate quantification of bone ingrowth on the screw (ranging from 60% to 71%). DVC allowed successful identification of the deformation and cracks that occurred during mechanical loading and led to final failure of the bone-implant interface.


External organisations
  • Paul Scherrer Institute
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Orthopedics


  • Bone, Digital Volume Correlation, Metallic screw, Neutron tomography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch