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J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2008 Jan;1(1):68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2007.06.002.

Micro-computed tomography of fatigue microdamage in cortical bone using a barium sulfate contrast agent.

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  • 1Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, The University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


Accumulation of microdamage during fatigue can lead to increased fracture susceptibility in bone. Current techniques for imaging microdamage in bone are inherently destructive and two-dimensional. Therefore, the objective of this study was to image the accumulation of fatigue microdamage in cortical bone using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) with a barium sulfate (BaSO(4)) contrast agent. Two symmetric notches were machined on the tensile surface of bovine cortical bone beams in order to generate damage ahead of the stress concentrations during four-point bending fatigue. Specimens were loaded to a specified number of cycles or until one notch fractured, such that the other notch exhibited the accumulation of microdamage prior to fracture. Microdamage ahead of the notch was stained in vitro by precipitation of BaSO(4) and imaged using micro-CT. Reconstructed images showed a distinct region of bright voxels around the notch tip or along propagating cracks due to the presence of BaSO(4), which was verified by backscattered electron imaging and energy dispersive spectroscopy. The shape of the stained region ahead of the notch tip was consistent with principal strain contours calculated by finite element analysis. The relative volume of the stained region was correlated with the number of loading cycles by non-linear regression using a power-law. This study demonstrates new methods for the non-destructive and three-dimensional detection of fatigue microdamage accumulation in cortical bone in vitro, which may be useful to gain further understanding into the role of microdamage in bone fragility.


Barium Sulfate; Contrast Agents; Cortical Bone; Fatigue Microdamage; Micro-Computed Tomography

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