Volume effects on fatigue life of equine cortical bone

R. F. Bigley, J. C. Gibeling, Susan M Stover, S. J. Hazelwood, David P Fyhrie, R. B. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Materials, including bone, often fail due to loading in the presence of critical flaws. The relative amount, location, and interaction of these flaws within a stressed volume of material play a role in determining the failure properties of the structure. As materials are generally imperfect, larger volumes of material have higher probabilities of containing a flaw of critical size than do smaller volumes. Thus, larger volumes tend to fail at fewer cycles compared with smaller volumes when fatigue loaded to similar stress levels. A material is said to exhibit a volume effect if its failure properties are dependent on the specimen volume. Volume effects are well documented in brittle ceramics and composites and have been proposed for bone. We hypothesized that (1) smaller volumes of cortical bone have longer fatigue lives than similarly loaded larger volumes and (2) that compared with microstructural features, specimen volume was able to explain comparable amounts of variability in fatigue life. In this investigation, waisted rectangular specimens (n=18) with nominal cross-sections of 3×4 mm and gage lengths of 10.5, 21, or 42 mm, were isolated from the mid-diaphysis of the dorsal region of equine third metacarpal bones. These specimens were subjected to uniaxial load controlled fatigue tests, with an initial strain range of 4000 microstrain. The group having the smallest volume exhibited a trend of greater log fatigue life than the larger volume groups. Each volume group exhibited a significant positive correlation between the logarithm of fatigue life and the cumulative failure probability, indicating that the data follow the two-parameter Weibull distribution. Additionally, log fatigue life was negatively correlated with log volume, supporting the hypothesis that smaller stressed volumes of cortical bone possess longer fatigue lives than similarly tested larger stressed volumes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3548-3554
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2007


  • Equine third metacarpal
  • Failure
  • Fatigue life
  • Volume
  • Weibull analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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