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Bone. 2013 Jul;55(1):208-15. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2013.02.019. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

In vivo microdamage is an indicator of susceptibility to initiation and propagation of microdamage in human femoral trabecular bone.

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


Microdamage has been cited as an important element of trabecular bone quality and fracture risk, as materials with flaws have lower modulus and strength than equivalent undamaged materials. However, the magnitude of the effect of damage on failure properties depends on its tendency to propagate. Human femoral trabecular bone from the neck and greater trochanter was subjected to one of compressive, torsional, or combined compression and torsion. The in vivo, new, and propagating damage were then quantified in thick sections under epifluorescent microscopy. Multiaxial loading, which was intended to represent an off-axis load such as a fall or accident, caused much more damage than either simple compression or shear, and similarly caused the greatest stiffness loss. In all cases, initiation of new damage far exceeded the propagation of existing damage. This may reflect stress redistribution away from damaged trabeculae, resulting in new damage sites. However, the accumulation of new damage was positively correlated with quantity of pre-existing damage in all loading modes, indicating that damaged bone is inherently more prone to further damage formation. Moreover, about 50% of in vivo microcracks propagated under each type of loading. Finally, damage formation was positively correlated to decreased compressive stiffness following both axial and shear loading. Taken together, these results demonstrate that damage in trabecular bone adversely affects its mechanical properties, and is indicative of bone that is more susceptible to further damage.

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