Finite element micro-modelling of a human ankle bone reveals the importance of the trabecular network to mechanical performance: New methods for the generation and comparison of 3D models

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Journal Article
Journal of Biomechanics, 2013, 46 (1), pp. 200 - 205
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Most modelling of whole bones does not incorporate trabecular geometry and treats bone as a solid non-porous structure. Some studies have modelled trabecular networks in isolation. One study has modelled the performance of whole human bones incorporating trabeculae, although this required considerable computer resources and purpose-written code. The difference between mechanical behaviour in models that incorporate trabecular geometry and non-porous models has not been explored. The ability to easily model trabecular networks may shed light on the mechanical consequences of bone loss in osteoporosis and remodelling after implant insertion. Here we present a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of a human ankle bone that includes trabecular network geometry. We compare results from this model with results from non-porous models and introduce protocols achievable on desktop computers using widely available softwares. Our findings show that models including trabecular geometry are considerably stiffer than non-porous whole bone models wherein the non-cortical component has the same mass as the trabecular network, suggesting inclusion of trabecular geometry is desirable. We further present new methods for the construction and analysis of 3D models permitting: (1) construction of multi-property, non-porous models wherein cortical layer thickness can be manipulated; (2) maintenance of the same triangle network for the outer cortical bone surface in both 3D reconstruction and non-porous models allowing exact replication of load and restraint cases; and (3) creation of an internal landmark point grid allowing direct comparison between 3D FE Models (FEMs). © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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