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Previous Damage Accumulation Can Influence Femoral Fracture Strength: A Finite Element Study.

Ifaz T Haider, Hanspeter Frei
Published 2019 · Medicine
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To manage osteoporotic hip fracture risk, it is necessary to understand failure mechanisms of bone at both the material and organ level. The structural response of bone is dependent on load history. Repeated loading causes progressive microstructural cracking, resulting in reduced apparent-level stiffness and, if damage is significant, reductions to peak load bearing capability. However, the effect of previous damage accumulation has not been well explored at the organ level. It was hypothesized that femoral fracture load and fracture pattern may be sensitive to damage accumulation from previous loading events. Six cadaveric specimens were used to develop patient specific finite element (FE) models from quantitative tomographic (qCT) scans. Material properties were assigned from qCT intensity at each element location, and damage evolution was predicted using a previously validated quasi-brittle FE model. Three scenarios were investigated: stumble followed by another stumble (S-S), fall followed by another fall (F-F), and stumble followed by a fall (S-F). Fracture load and pattern were compared to FE predictions for a single stumble (S) or single fall (F) loading event. Most specimens were resilient to accumulated damage, showing little (<5%) change in fracture load from the multiple-load scenarios (S-S, F-F, and S-F) compared to an equivalent single load scenario (S or F). Only one specimen demonstrated moderate (5-15%) reductions in strength from all three multiple-load scenarios. However, two specimens experienced moderate (20-30%) increase in fracture load in some load cases. In these cases, initial damage caused the load to be more evenly distributed upon subsequent loading events.
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