Micro-finite element (micro-FE) analysis became a standard tool for the evaluation of trabecular bone mechanical properties. The accuracy of micro-FE models for linear analyses is well established. However, the accuracy of recently developed nonlinear micro-FE models for simulations of trabecular bone failure is not known. In this study, a trabecular bone specimen was compressed beyond the apparent yield point. The experiment was simulated using different micro-FE meshes with different element sizes and types, and material models based on cortical bone. The results from the simulations were compared with experimental results to study the effects of the different element and material models. It was found that a decrease in element size from 80 to 40 μm had little effect on predicted post-yield behaviour. Element type and material model had significant effects. Nevertheless, none of the established material models for cortical bone were able to predict the typical descent in the load-displacement curve seen during compression of trabecular bone.
Keywords: finite element method; trabecular bone; bone failure; computed tomography