A mechanistic understanding of the role of bone quality on fracture processes is essential for determining the underlying causes of age-related changes in the mechanical response of the human bone. In this study, a previously developed cohesive finite element model was used to investigate the effects of age-related changes and the orientation of crack growth on the toughening behavior of human cortical bone. The change in the anisotropy of toughening mechanisms with age was also studied. Finite element method (FEM) simulations showed that the initiation toughness decreased by 3% and 8%/decade for transverse and longitudinal crack growth, respectively. In contrast, fracture resistance curve slope for transverse and longitudinal crack growth decreased by 2% and 3%/decade, respectively. Initiation fracture toughness values were higher for the transverse than for the longitudinal for a given age. On the other hand, propagation fracture toughness values were higher for longitudinal than for transverse crack growth for a given age. With respect to age, the toughness ratio for crack initiation decreased by 6%/decade, but that for propagation showed almost no change (less than 1%). In light of these findings, an analytical model evaluating the crack arresting feature of cement lines, is proposed to explain the factors that determine crack penetration into osteons or its deflection by cement lines.
Keywords: Cortical bone; Fracture toughness; Aging; Finite element method; Transverse crack growth