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Quantifying The Effects Of Formalin Fixation On The Mechanical Properties Of Cortical Bone Using Beam Theory And Optimization Methodology With Specimen-Specific Finite Element Models

Guan-Jun Zhang, Jie Yang, Feng-Jiao Guan, Dan Chen, Na Li, Libo Cao, Haojie Mao

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The effects of formalin fixation on bone material properties remain debatable. In this study, we collected 36 fresh-frozen cuboid-shaped cortical specimens from five male bovine femurs and immersed half of the specimens into 4% formalin fixation liquid for 30 days. We then conducted three-point bending tests and used both beam theory method and an optimization method combined with specimen-specific finite element (FE) models to identify material parameters. Through the optimization FE method, the formalin-fixed bones showed a significantly lower Young's modulus (−12%) compared to the fresh-frozen specimens, while no difference was observed using the beam theory method. Meanwhile, both the optimization FE and beam theory methods revealed higher effective failure strains for formalin-fixed bones compared to fresh-frozen ones (52% higher through the optimization FE method and 84% higher through the beam theory method). Hence, we conclude that the formalin fixation has a significant effect on bovine cortical bones at small, elastic, as well as large, plastic deformations.