Stress fractures stem from the initiation and propagation of fatigue cracks through bone, and fatigue damage may play a role in many other orthopaedic problems, such as hip fractures in the elderly. The objective of this investigation was to measure fatigue crack propagation rates in cortical bone. Specific aims were to determine fatigue crack growth rate, da/dN, as a function of alternating stress intensity factor, ΔK, for equine third metacarpal cortical bone tissue; to determine whether the resulting data followed the Paris law; and to test the hypothesis that crack growth rates differe between dorsal and lateral regions. Compact type specimens oriented for transverse crack growth were subjected to fatigue under Mode I loading. The da/dN vs. ΔK data for the dorsal specimens revealed a Paris law exponent of 10.4 (R2 = 0.82), comparable to that for ceramics. These data also exhibited an apparent threshold stress intensity factor of 2.0 MPa · m1/2. It was not possible to obtain similar results for lateral specimens because all cracks deviated from the desired transverse path and ran longitudinally in spite of the use of side grooves to constrain the crack path. However, the results for lateral specimens were not due to a failure of the test method, but reflect dramatic differences in fatigue crack propagation resistance between the two cortical regions. These results are consistent with clinical observations that stress fractures in the third metacarpus typically occur in the mid-diaphysis of the dorsal cortex, but not in the lateral cortex.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)