The microstructure of trabecular bone is usually perceived as a collection of plate-like and rod-like trabeculae, which can be determined from the emerging high-resolution skeletal imaging modalities such as micro-computed tomography (μCT) or clinical high-resolution peripheral quantitative CT (HR-pQCT) using the individual trabecula segmentation (ITS) technique. It has been shown that the ITS-based plate and rod parameters are highly correlated with elastic modulus and yield strength of human trabecular bone. In the current study, plate–rod (PR) finite element (FE) models were constructed completely based on ITS-identified individual trabecular plates and rods. We hypothesized that PR FE can accurately and efficiently predict elastic modulus and yield strength of human trabecular bone. Human trabecular bone cores from proximal tibia (PT), femoral neck (FN) and greater trochanter (GT) were scanned by μCT. Specimen-specific ITS-based PR FE models were generated for each μCT image and corresponding voxel-based FE models were also generated in comparison. Both types of specimen-specific models were subjected to nonlinear FE analysis to predict the apparent elastic modulus and yield strength using the same trabecular bone tissue properties. Then, mechanical tests were performed to experimentally measure the apparent modulus and yield strength. Strong linear correlations for both elastic modulus (r² = 0.97) and yield strength (r² = 0.96) were found between the PR FE model predictions and experimental measures, suggesting that trabecular plate and rod morphology adequately captures three-dimensional (3D) microarchitecture of human trabecular bone. In addition, the PR FE model predictions in both elastic modulus and yield strength were highly correlated with the voxel-based FE models (r² = 0.99, r² = 0.98, respectively), resulted from the original 3D images without the PR segmentation. In conclusion, the ITS-based PR models predicted accurately both elastic modulus and yield strength determined experimentally across three distinct anatomic sites. Trabecular plates and rods accurately determine elastic modulus and yield strength of human trabecular bone.
Individual trabecula segmentation; Microarchitecture; Plate and rod; Finite element; Elastic modulus; Yield strength