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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)


Recently finite element studies have incorporated bone remodelling algorithms in an attempt to simulate bone's mechano-adaptation to loading conditions. In order to simplify these analyses, bone is usually considered to be isotropic, which does not explain the directionality of its internal structures; neither the orthotropic properties measured at the continuum level. Furthermore, simplified loading is usually applied to the bone models, which can result in an unrealistic remodelling stimulus. However, free boundary condition modelling of the femoral and pelvic constructs has been shown to produce more physiological stress and strain distributions.

This paper describes the application of a 3D remodelling algorithm (with bone modelled as a strain-adaptive continuum with local orthotropic material properties) to a free boundary model of the femoral construct, where the hip and knee joints, as well as muscles and ligaments crossing the joints were included explicitly. Two load cases were analysed: single leg stance and standing up.

Material properties and directionality distributions were produced for the whole femur, showing good agreement with observed structures from clinical studies. This indicates that the loading conditions modelled correspond to those experienced in vivo. In addition, the impact of the different load cases in bone structure modelling could be compared. Observations of the material properties distribution and orientation for standing up indicate that it promotes changes in bone stiffness in the anterior regions of the femoral neck and cortical shaft and the posterior side of the condyles.

Development of this approach to modelling and bone structure prediction can lead to a better understanding of bone's mechanical behaviour and to the development and public release of orthotropic heterogeneous models for different constructs. These can be applied in many areas of interest in orthopaedic biomechanics, such as the study of bone-implant interfaces, improvement of the currently used surgical tools and techniques and the influence of certain activities in affecting local bone strength and mineralisation.