A fracture mechanics study of cortical bone is presented to investigate the contribution, development morphology of microcracking in cortical bone during crack propagation. Post-hoc analyses of microcrack orientation, crack propagation velocity and fracture surface roughness were conducted on previously tested human and bovine bone compact tension specimens. It was found that, consistent with its higher toughness, bovine bone formed significantly more longitudinal, transverse and inclined microcracks than human bone. However, in human bone more of the microcracks that formed were longitudinal than transverse or inclined, a feature that would optimise bone's toughness. Crack propagation velocity in human and bovine bone displayed the same characteristic pattern with crack extension, where an increase in velocity is followed by a consequent decrease and vice versa. On the basis of this pattern, a model or crack propagation has been proposed. It provides a detailed account of mocrocrack formation and contribution towards the propagation of a fracture crack. Analyses of fracture surfaces indicated that, consistent with its higher toughness, bovine bone displays a rougher surface than human bone but they both have the same basic fractured element, i.e. a mineralised collagen fibril.
Keywords: Cortical bone fracture; Fracture toughness; Frontal process zone; Crack propagation velocity; Fractography; Mineralised collagen fibril