Relating age and micro-architecture with apparent-level elastic constants: a micro-finite element study of female cortical bone from the anterior femoral midshaft

F.E. Donaldson, P. Pankaj, Hamish Simpson, D.M.L. Cooper, C.D.L. Thomas, J.G. Clement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Homogenized elastic properties are often assumed for macro-finite element (FE) models used in orthopaedic biomechanics. The accuracy of material property assignments may have a strong effect on the ability of these models to make accurate predictions. For cortical bone, most macro-scale FE models assume isotropic elastic material behaviour and do not include variation of material properties due to bone micro-architecture. The first aim of the present study was to evaluate the variation of apparent-level (homogenized) orthotropic elastic constants of cortical bone with age and indices of bone micro-architecture. Considerable age-dependent differences in porosity were noted across the cortical thickness in previous research. The second aim of the study was to quantify the resulting differences in elastic constants between the periosteum and endosteum. Specimens were taken from the anterior femoral midshaft of 27 female donors (age 53.4 +/- 23.6 years) and micro-FE (gFE) analysis was used to derive orthotropic elastic constants. The variation of orthotropic elastic constants (Young's moduli, shear moduli, and Poisson's ratios) with various cortical bone micro-architectural indices was investigated. The ratio of canal volume to tissue volume, Ca.V/TV, analogous to porosity, was found to be the strongest predictor (r2(ave) = 0.958) of the elastic constants. Age was less predictive (r2(ave) = 0.385) than Ca.V/TV. Elastic anisotropy increased with increasing Ca.V/TV, leading to lower elastic moduli in the transverse, typically less frequently loaded, directions. Increased Ca.V/TV led to a more substantial reduction in elastic constants at the endosteal aspect than at the periosteal aspect. The results are expected to be most applicable in similar midshaft locations of long bones; specific analysis of other sites would be necessary to evaluate elastic properties elsewhere. It was concluded that Ca.V/TV was the most predictive of cortical bone elastic constants and that considerable periosteal-endosteal variations in these constants can develop with bone loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-96
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anisotropy
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Female
  • Femur
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Periosteum
  • Porosity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


Dive into the research topics of 'Relating age and micro-architecture with apparent-level elastic constants: a micro-finite element study of female cortical bone from the anterior femoral midshaft'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this