Analyses of the distributions of stress and strain within individual bone trabeculae have not yet been reported. In this study, four trabeculae were imaged and finite elements models were generated in an attempt to quantify the variability of stress/strain in real trabeculae. In three of these trabeculae, cavities were identified with depths comparable to values reported for resorption lacunae (∼50 μm)—although we cannot be certain, it is most probable that they are indeed resorption lacunae. A tensile load was applied to each trabeculum to simulate physiological loading and to ensure that bending was minimized. The force carried by each trabecula was calculated from this value using the average cross sectional area of each trabecula. The analyses predict that very high stresses (>100MPa) existed within bone trabecular tissue. Stress and strain distributions were highly heterogeneous in all cases, more so in trabeculae with the presumptive resorption lacunae where at least 30% of the tissue had a strain greater than 4000 με in all cases. Stresses were elevated at the pit of the lacunae, and peak stress concentrations were located in the longitudinal direction ahead of the lacunae. Given these high strains, we suggest that microdamage is inevitable around resorption lacunae in trabecular bone, and may cause the bone multicellular unit to proceed to resorb a packet of bone in the trabeculum rather than just resorb whatever localized area was initially targeted.
Keywords: Bone; Stress concentrations; Microdamage; Osteoporosis; Fragility