High-resolution finite element models of trabecular bone failure could be used to augment current techniques for measuring damage in trabecular bone. However, the sensitivity of such models to the assumed tissue yield properties and apparent loading conditions is unknown. The goal of this study was to assess the sensitivity of the amount and mode (tension vs. compression) of tissue level yielding in trabecular bone to these factors. Linear elastic, high-resolution finite element models of nine bovine tibial trabecular bone specimens were used to calculate the fraction of the total tissue volume that exceeded each criterion for apparent level loading to the reported elastic limit in both on-axis and transverse compression and tension, and in shear. Four candidate yield criteria were studied, based on values suggested in the literature. Both the amount and the failure mode of yielded tissue were sensitive to the magnitudes of the tissue yield strains, the degree of tension–compression asymmetry of the yield criterion, and the applied apparent loads. The amount of yielded tissue was most sensitive to the orientation of the applied apparent loading, with the most tissue yielding for loading along the principal trabecular orientation and the least for loading perpendicular to it, regardless of the assumed tissue level yield criterion. Small changes in the magnitudes and the degree of asymmetry of the tissue yield criterion resulted in much larger changes in the amount of yielded tissue in the model. The results indicate that damage predictions based on high-resolution finite element models are highly sensitive to the assumed tissue yield properties. As such, good estimates of these values are needed before high-resolution finite element models can be applied to the study of trabecular bone damage. Regardless of the assumed tissue yield properties, the amount and type of damage that occurs in trabecular bone depends on the relative orientations of the applied apparent loads to the trabecular architecture, and this parameter should be controlled for both experimental and computational damage studies.
Keywords: Trabecular bone; Failure; Micromechanical; Finite elements