Application of homogenization theory to the study of trabecular bone mechanics

S. J. Hollister, David P Fyhrie, K. J. Jepsen, S. A. Goldstein

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131 Scopus citations


It is generally accepted that the strength and stiffness of trabecular bone is strongly affected by trabecular microstructure. It has also been hypothesized that stress induced adaptation of trabecular bone is affected by trabecular tissue level stress and/or strain. At this time, however, there is no generally accepted (or easily accomplished) technique for predicting the effect of microstructure on trabecular bone apparent stiffness and strength or estimating tissue level stress or strain. In this paper, a recently developed mechanics theory specifically designed to analyze microstructured materials, called the homogenization theory, is presented and applied to analyze trabecular bone mechanics. Using the homogenization theory it is possible to perform microstructural and continuum analyses separately and then combine them in a systematic manner. Stiffness predictions from two different microstructural models of trabecular bone show reasonable agreement with experimental results, depending on metaphyseal region, (R2>0.5 for proximal humerus specimens, R2 <0.5 for distal femur and proximal tibia specimens). Estimates of both microstructural strain energy density (SED) and apparent SED show that there are large differences (up to 30 times) between apparent SED (as calculated by standard continuum finite element analyses) and the maximum microstructural or tissue SED. Furthermore, a strut and spherical void microstructure gave very different estimates of maximum tissue SED for the same bone volume fraction ( BV TV). The estimates from the spherical void microstructure are between 2 and 20 times greater than the strut microstructure at 10-20% BV TV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-839
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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