Cancellous bone lamellae strongly affect microcrack propagation and apparent mechanical properties: Separation of patients with osteoporotic fracture from normal controls using a 2D nonlinear finite element method (biomechanical stereology)

Xiang Wang, Roger R. Zauel, D. Sudhaker Rao, David P Fyhrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Biomechanical stereology is proposed as a two-dimensional (2D) finite element (FE) method to estimate the ability of bone tissue to sustain damage and to separate patients with osteoporotic fracture from normal controls. Briefly, 2D nonlinear compact tension FE models were created from quantitative back scattered electron images taken of iliac crest bone specimens collected from the individuals with or without osteoporotic fracture history. The effects of bone mineral microstructure on predicted bone fracture toughness and microcrack propagation were examined. The 2D FE models were used as surrogates for the real bone tissues. The calculated microcrack propagation results and bone mechanical properties were examined as surrogates for measurements from mechanical testing of actual specimens. The results for the 2D FE simulation separated patients with osteoporotic fracture from normal controls even though only the variability in tissue mineral microstructure was used to build the models. The models were deliberately created to ignore all differences in mean mineralization. Hence, the current results support the following hypotheses: (1) that material heterogeneity is important to the separation of patients with osteoporotic fracture from normal controls; and (2) that 2D nonlinear finite element modeling can produce surrogate mechanical parameters that separate patients with fracture from normal controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1192
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008



  • Biomechanical stereology
  • Bone mineralization
  • Compact tension
  • Finite element
  • Mechanical property

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology

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