Understanding local microstructural deformations and strains in cortical bone may lead to a better understanding of cortical bone damage development, fracture, and remodeling. Traditional experimental techniques for measuring deformation and strain do not allow characterization of these quantities at the microstructural level in cortical bone. This study describes a technique based on digital stereoimaging used to measure the microstructural strain fields in cortical bone. The technique allows the measurement of material surface displacements and strains by comparing images acquired from a specimen at two distinct stress states. The accuracy of the system is investigated by analyzing an undeformed image set; the test image is identical to the reference image but translated by a known pixel amount. An increase in the correlation sub-image train parameter results in an increase in displacement measurement accuracy from 0.049 to 0.012 pixels. Errors in strain calculated from the measured displacement field were between 39 and 564 microstrain depending upon the sub-image train size and applied image displacement. The presence of a microcrack in cortical bone results in local strain at the crack tip reaching 0.030 (30,000 microstrain) and 0.010 (10,000 microstrain) near osteocyte lacunae. It is expected that the use of this technique will allow a greater understanding of bone strength and fracture as well as bone mechanotransduction.
Keywords: Cortical bone; Micromechanics; Microstructure; Strain