Trabecular plates play an important role in determining elastic moduli of trabecular bone. However, the relative contribution of trabecular plates and rods to strength behavior is still not clear. In this study, individual trabeculae segmentation (ITS) and nonlinear finite element (FE) analyses were used to evaluate the roles of trabecular types and orientations in the failure initiation and progression in human vertebral trabecular bone. Fifteen human vertebral trabecular bone samples were imaged using micro computed tomography (μCT), and segmented using ITS into individual plates and rods by orientation (longitudinal, oblique, and transverse). Nonlinear FE analysis was conducted to perform a compression simulation for each sample up to 1% apparent strain. The apparent and relative trabecular number and tissue fraction of failed trabecular plates and rods were recorded during loading and data were stratified by trabecular orientation. More trabecular rods (both in number and tissue fraction) failed at the initiation of compression (0.1–0.2% apparent strain) while more plates failed around the apparent yield point (>0.7% apparent strain). A significant correlation between plate bone volume fraction (pBV/TV) and apparent yield strength was found (r²=0.85). From 0.3% to 1% apparent strain, significantly more longitudinal trabecular plate and transverse rod failed than other types of trabeculae. While failure initiates at rods and rods fail disproportionally to their number, plates contribute significantly to the apparent yield strength because of their larger number and tissue volume. The relative failed number and tissue fraction at apparent yield point indicate homogeneous local failure in plates and rods of different orientations.
Keywords: Finite element model; Trabecular plate/rod; Individual trabeculae segmentation; Trabecular orientation; Trabecular bone strength