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PLoS One. 2016 Jul 26;11(7):e0159541. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159541. eCollection 2016.

Finite-Element Analysis of Bone Stresses on Primary Impact in a Large-Animal Model: The Distal End of the Equine Third Metacarpal.

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Department of Biomedical Science, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, School of Engineering, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
Robarts Research Institute, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Surgery, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.



To assess whether the transient stresses of foot impact with the ground are similar to those found during midstance loading and if the location of high stress correlate with the sites most commonly associated with mechanically induced osteoarthritis (OA). We compared impact stresses in subchondral bone between two subject-specific, three-dimensional, finite-element models of the equine metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint-one with advanced OA and one healthy, and with similar published data on the stresses that occur at midstance.


Two right MCP joints (third metacarpal and proximal phalanx) were scanned using micro-computed tomography (μCT). Images were segmented, and meshed using modified 10-node quadratic tetrahedral elements. Bone material properties were assigned based on the bone density. An impact velocity of 3.55 m/s was applied to each model and contact pressures and stress distribution were calculated for each. In a separate iteration, the third metacarpal was loaded statically. A sampling grid of 160 equidistant points was superimposed over selected slices, and average peak stresses were calculated for 6 anatomical regions. Within-region maximal peak and average von Mises stresses were compared between healthy and OA bones in both midstance and impact loading.


Average impact stresses across all regions, in both locations (palmar and dorsal) were greater in the OA model. Highest impact stresses were located in the dorsal medial condyle in the healthy (12.8 MPa) and OA (14.1MPa) models, and were lowest in the palmar medial and lateral parasagittal grooves in the healthy (5.94 MPa) and OA (7.07 MPa) models. The healthy static model had higher peak (up to 49.7% greater) and average (up to 38.6% greater) stresses in both locations and across all regions compared to the OA static model.


Under simulated footfall a trot, loading on the dorsal aspect of the third metacarpal at impact created stresses similar to those found during midstance. The high accelerations that occur under impact loading are likely responsible for creating the high stresses, as opposed to midstance loading where the high stresses are the result of high mass loading. Although the stress magnitudes were found to be similar among the two loading conditions, the location of the high stress loading occurred in sites that are not typically associated with osteoarthritic changes.

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