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J Biomech. 2010 Sep 17;43(13):2460-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.05.032. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Type and orientation of yielded trabeculae during overloading of trabecular bone along orthogonal directions.

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Tissue Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.


Trabecular architecture plays a major role in bone mechanics. Osteoporosis leads to a transition from a plate-like to a more rod-like trabecular morphology, which may contribute to fracture risk beyond that predicted by changes in density. In this study, microstructural finite element analysis results were analyzed using individual trabeculae segmentation (ITS) to identify the type and orientation of trabeculae where tissue yielded during compressive overloads in two orthogonal directions. For both apparent loading conditions, most of the yielded tissue was found in longitudinally oriented plates. However, the primary loading mode of yielded trabeculae was axial compression with superposed bending for on-axis loading in contrast to bending for transverse loading. For either loading direction, most plate-like trabeculae yielded in the same loading mode, regardless of their orientation. In contrast, rods oriented parallel to the loading axis yielded in compression, while rods oblique or perpendicular to the loading axis yielded in combined bending and tension. The predominance of tissue yielding in plates during both on-axis and transverse overloading explains why on-axis overloading is detrimental to the off-axis mechanical properties. At the same time, a large fraction of the tissue in rod-like trabeculae parallel to the loading direction yielded in both on-axis and transverse loading. Hence, rods may be more likely to be damaged and potentially resorbed by damage mediated remodeling.

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