Finite element models have been widely employed in an effort to quantify the stress and strain distribution around implanted prostheses and to explore the influence of these distributions on their long-term stability. In order to provide meaningful predictions, such models must contain an appropriate reflection of mechanical properties. Detailed geometrical and density information is now readily available from CT scanning. However, despite the use of phantoms, a method of determining mechanical properties (or elastic constants) from bone density has yet to be made available in a usable form.
In this study, a cadaveric bone was CT scanned and its natural frequencies were measured using modal analysis. Using the geometry obtained from the CT scan data, a finite element mesh was created with the distribution of density established by matching the mass of the FE bone model with the mass of the cadaveric bone. The maximum values of the orthotropic elastic constants were then established by matching the predictions from FE modal analyses to the experimental natural frequencies, giving a maximum error of 7.8% over 4 modes of vibration. Finally, the elastic constants of the bone derived from the analyses were compared with those measured using ultrasound techniques. This produced a difference of <1% for both the maximum density and axial Young's Modulus. This study has thereby produced an orthotropic finite element model of a human femur. More importantly, however, is the implication that it is possible to create a valid FE model by simply comparing the FE results with the measured resonant frequency of the CT scanned bone.