The influence of microstructure on crack propagation in cortical bone at the mesoscale

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The microstructure of cortical bone is key for the tissue's high toughness and strength and efficient toughening mechanisms have been identified at the microscale, for example when propagating cracks interact with the osteonal microstructure. Finite element models have been proposed as suitable tools for analyzing the complex link between the local tissue structure and the fracture resistance of cortical bone. However, previous models that could capture realistic crack paths in cortical bone were due to the required computational effort limited to idealized osteon geometries and small (<1 mm2) model domains. The objective of this study was therefore to bridge the gap between experimental and numerical analysis of crack propagation in cortical bone by introducing image-based models at the mesoscale. Tissue orientation maps from high-resolution micro-CT images were used to define the distribution and orientation of weak interfaces in the models. Crack propagation was simulated using the extended finite element method in combination with an interface damage model, previously developed to simulate crack propagation in microstructural osteon models. The results showed that image-based mesoscale models can be used to capture interactions between cracks and microstructure. The simulated crack paths predicted the general trends seen in experiments with more irregular patterns for cracks propagating perpendicular compared to parallel to the osteon orientation. In all, the proposed method enabled an efficient description of the tissue level microstructure, which is a necessity to predict realistic crack paths in cortical bone and is an important step towards simulating crack propagation in bone models in 3D.

TidskriftJournal of Biomechanics
StatusPublished - 2020 nov. 9

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