A method is presented to find orthotropic elastic symmetries and constants directly from the elastic coefficients in the overall stiffness matrix of trabecular bone test specimens. Contrary to earlier developed techniques, this method does not require pure orthotropic behavior or additional fabric measurements. The method uses high-resolution computer reconstructions of trabecular bone specimens as input for large-scale FE-analyses to determine all the 21 elastic coefficients in the overall stiffness matrix of the specimen, using a direct mechanics approach. An optimization procedure is then used to find the coordinate transformation that yields the best orthotropic representation of this matrix. The method is illustrated here relative to two trabecular bone specimens. The techniques developed here can be used to obtain a complete characterization of the mechanical properties of trabecular architecture. With the development of in vivo reconstruction techniques, even in vivo measurements will be possible.
Keywords: Trabecular bone; Bone mechanics; Bone architecture; Bone reconstruction; finite element analysis