This work investigates how changes in cortical bone microstructure alter the risk of fragility fractures. The secondary osteons of non-osteoporotic (by DXA) women with fragility fractures have reduced lamellar width and greater areas of birefringent brightness in transverse sections, a pathological condition. We used hierarchical finite element (FE) models of the proximal femur of two women aged 67 and 88 (younger and older) during one-legged stance. At specific locations of the anterior-inferior neck (ROI), we analyzed micro-models containing osteons comprised of alternating birefringent extinct and bright lamellae. The plane of lamellar isotropy (XY) was transverse to the osteon longitudinal axis (Z) which was parallel to the femoral neck axis. To evaluate changes in fracture risk with changes in microstructure, we investigated principal and von Mises stresses, and planar stress measures that accounted for transverse isotropy. For both younger and older femurs, 48% to 100% of stress measures were larger in models with healthy architecture than in models with pathological architecture, while controlling for type of lamella and osteon. These findings suggest that bone adaptation reduces stress at most pathological lamellar sites. However, in the bright lamellae of the younger femur, the pathological tensile, compressive and distortional stresses in the transverse plane and distortional stress in the longitudinal planes were larger than the non-negligible corresponding stresses in 6 of the 28 osteon models with healthy architecture, in 5 of the 7 locations. Therefore, a minority of sites with pathological architecture present greater stress, and therefore, greater fracture risk.
Keywords: Biomechanics; Lamella; Low-trauma fracture; Osteon; Pathology